The current Political Quagmire in ETHiopia

Wond Wossen

Here is how I read the current political quagmire in the country.
TPLF and OPDO are locked in a very dangerous power struggle. The new OPDO leadership demands a greater share of federal power that is commensurate with the size of the population it “represents”. TPLF insists on maintaining its undue monopoly of federal power.
TPLF controls key federal institutions including the army, the security, media institutions, and telecom and transport infrastructure. The new OPDO leadership has the upper hand in the Oromia regional state. The region’s key institutions, including the regional parliament, the media, the police force, the civil service, the population at large, and even Diaspora “opposition groups” all seem to stand behind the new leadership. The new leadership is exploiting its regional hegemony, and the support it enjoys from the population––a population that is particularly bitter about the TPLF––to break TPLF’s dominance.
ANDM, the least legitimate of the EPRDF parties on account of its deep legitimacy crisis among the Amhara, is following events quietly, perhaps calculating which side to favor when push comes to shove. There is no clear indication yet which side it will take, although I suspect eventually it would favor the victor. After all, ANDM’s history is a history of obedience and servitude. As such, neither TPLF nor OPDO could count on ANDM, apriori, in their ongoing power struggle.
In the meantime, TPLF is using the long arm of the federal government to unsettle the new OPDO leadership. Although exaggerated to an extent, reports of TPLF agents trying to instigate violence in parts of Oromia cannot be discounted altogether. Violence in Oromia is in TPLF’s best interest. First, violence, especially when it assumes an ethnic character, helps to stain the Oromo struggle in the eyes of other Ethiopians and discredit the new OPDO leadership. Second, it creates the perfect excuse for TPLF to unleash its army against peaceful protesters, and show who is really in charge (just as it did in Ambo few days ago!), putting OPDO and its nationalistic rhetoric in a precarious position. The population would start to question OPDO’s resolve to stand up to TPLF.
In retaliation to TPLF’s continued menace, OPDO deploys its regional security establishment to target TPLF’s involvement in illegal activities, including contraband trade, illicit financial flow, and abuses by TPLF affiliated businesses and investors. To amplify their propaganda value, OPDO justifies and propagates these measures using its regional media wing and online activists. Angered by the exposition of their criminality, TPLFites retaliate by taking violent measures that impair OPDO’s standing among the Oromo, and other Ethiopians.
Although in theory, TPLF could still mass arrest OPDO’s new leadership and replace them by puppets, such a dramatic measure could backfire in more ways than one. First, it will seriously undermine the already tattering image of the EPRDF in the eyes of both its members and the public. Especially, non-TPLF members could lose confidence in the party. Second, OPDO’s new leadership might resist arrest and deploy the regional police force to defend itself, thus setting off a dangerous military standoff between the two parties. Finally, given the support they enjoy from the population, the arrest of OPDO’s leadership might provoke a whirlpool of violent protests across the region, further eroding TPLF’s control of the country.
Essentially, therefore, the two parties are locked in a perpetual power struggle. At present, none seems to have the critical upper hand to win the battle definitively. To make matters worse, EPRDF does not seem to have a proper mechanism of resolving such inter-party hostilities. The PM recently gave hints at some sort of negotiation is taking place to sway Aba Dulla to revisit his recent resignation from his post as Speaker of the House. If true, the negotiation is unlikely to be confined to Aba Dulla’s return to his post. It will also likely address the hostility between OPDO and TPLF. Whether this effort will bear fruit and relations between the two parties could return to normality (what normality entails in this context itself is very problematic) remains to be seen.
In the meantime, the power politics between TPLF and OPDO is increasingly harming the average citizen. As we have repeatedly witnessed in the past months, the power struggle is expressing itself, at the local level, in the form of ethnic attacks, mass evictions, and extrajudicial killings of defenseless civilians. The preponderance of violence across the country is instilling a feeling of lawlessness and fear among the population. Moreover, regardless of who comes out of the power struggle victorious, the prospect of democratizing the country is very narrow. There is very little ideological difference between TPLF, OPDO and ANDM. They all are advocates of revolutionary democracy and ethnic federalism. Replacing one’s dominance by the other will not answer our longstanding quest for democracy and rule of law.
The solution lies in a genuine and inclusive dialogue with all political parties, both inside and outside the country, and charting a lasting political roadmap that can pull the country from the current quagmire and put it on the path of democracy and stability. Anything short of genuine democratic reform at this time will only lead to perpetual violence, destruction and the inevitable disintegration of the country into smaller pieces.

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OPDO on Crossroads: What Comes Next?

Tullu Libban

It is a public knowledge that Oromia has been fully under the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) control over the last 26 years, in a camouflage of Ethiopian Peoples’ Democratic Front (EPRDF). In the EPRDF coalition, OPDO has served only TPLF as a tool to cash Oromia. There has no time when OPDO acted as a responsible party to represent the Oromo people because the system never wanted OPDO to play an active role in the entire tenure of EPRDF regime. We don’t need to go into the details of why TPLF created OPDO and why it kept it truncated for so long time. It seems, now the time has changed.
At this moment, it is a question whether TPLF can maintain its control over OPDO, by extension on Oromia, given the dynamics taking place in the political arena in the Ethiopian empire. It is less likely that TPLF could use OPDO as a manipulative political object anymore. In the recent months, OPDO has shown bold resistance towards the humiliating master-slave relationship it has undergone over a quarter a century.
The question is yet, how far this resistance can last and what will be the end result. For both TPLF and OPDO (the father and the child) the Oromo struggle posed undesired challenges. Can TPLF control Oromia without OPDO? Or can OPDO survive without TPLF? No for the father; yes for the child, in my opinion. Therefore, I guess, TPLF must have gone a mile ahead to prepare a plan on how to handle OPDO and maintain its lust for power and control for resources in Oromia. How about OPDO? Does it have any strategy on how to escape being swallowed by the yawing beast (TPLF)?
I believe, OPDO cannot continue to rule Oromia, (at least theatrically), providing a liaising service for TPLF against the interest of the Oromo people. Certainly, TPLF will never enjoy that cheap service from OPDO in the years ahead. However, there will be a lot of headache for the current leadership of OPDO to continue standing up to TPLF’s arrogance. TPLF will try its best to bring to power loyalists from within the OPDO to the higher echelon by removing the current populist figures like Lemma Megerssa, Abiy Ahmed, Addisu Arega, Worqineh Gebeyou etc.
What can TPLF do?
Assumption and scenarios
1. Engaging OPDO in routine rings: TPLF will continue to keep the current leadership busy (creating conflicts here and there, inciting uprisings in schools, industries, neighborhoods, encouraging havoc in Oromia). Then popular demands would remain unanswered in the region, development activities would be halted and resentments escalate to blame the current leadership.
2. Infiltration and sellouts: TPLF may prepare splinters, buy some betrayers to divide OPDO and manipulate internal strife to weaken the emerging force from the OPDO camp
3. Self-criticism and Confession (Gimgema): One of the instruments that TPLF deploys to tame its surrogates and control them with chains on the neck is the so-called gimgama. The masters stuff their subordinates in a hall and demand them to make confessions about perceived or committed “crimes”. The confession session may take a month or a couple of months. There is a character assassination camp known as EPRDF Training Center led by Addisu Legesse, Abay Tsegaye etc. and all top-level officials from all regions and federal government agencies are required to participate in the “training” at least for 2-3 months. Core TPLF circle reps “evaluate” each one of their prey and make a decision about whether the prey would go back to their position or fired and jailed.
4. Democratic Centralism: TPLF has effectively utilized the Stalinist method of democratic centralism, which allows dictators to impose their hegemony on party members, where members have no voice, right and choice to reject whatever percolates from above. They are expected to endorse whatever a small circle in the highest leadership decides. That is the kind of “democracy” in place even in the TPLF rubberstamp parliament, where laws are unanimously enacted without any objection or abstention. Therefore, OPDO members are required to heed to this practice and they would lose ground to hold an independent position on matters affecting their interest and that of the people they represent.
5. Marginalizing OPDO in the EPRDF: The formidable force to challenge TPLF at this moment is OPDO. Recent developments that brought about the alliance of the Oromo people with OPDO is a big blow to TPLF’s governance model. Therefore, TPLF would try its level best to mobilize ANDM and SEPDM against OPDO in a bid to diminish OPDO’s role in decision making on matters of national interest and that of the Oromia region. That would make matters difficult for the OPDO leadership to keep its public promises and pledges.

What should OPDO do then?
I would like to recommend the following points for OPDO to keep the momentum, ensure its relevance, credibility and very survival.
1. Stick to your motto of “Our people, our masters”, depend entirely on the Oromo people and listen to them attentively. Consult with Oromo intellectuals, pause and think over your plans before putting them into actions. That will spare you from committing ridiculous mistakes like erecting a thoughtless monument for Irrecha massacre martyrs and preparing a useless document for Oromia special interest over Finfinnee.
2. Act collectively and ensure profound bond among your members from top to down and stand together. Never let betrayers work against you and the interest of the Oromo people
3. Denounce the labeling of Oromo children as narrow nationalists and terrorists, as you are well aware of why these demeaning terms are used against the self-conscious and self-respecting Oromos
4. Get rid of the so-called democratic centralism and developmental government theories because both are unconstitutional party tools to restrict your free thoughts, actions and decisions
5. Say no to TPLF “gimgema” which is conducted in a master-servant relation manner. Why do Bereket, Abay, Addisu, Debretsion etc. gauge you and decide your fate, course of action and political life. Reverse this practice upside down and criticize them and make them accountable for the atrocities, corruptions, and vandalism in the country.
6. Say no to EPRDF rules and regulations, which are mainly developed by the late Meles Zenawi to serve the interest of TPLF dwarfing OPDO’s role and thereby that of the Oromo people in the political realm
7. Demand to have fair and proportional representation in the EPRDF executive committee and its council as well as in the Federation Council etc. so that you can influence decisions and discussions as per the contribution of Oromia to the national economy and well-being.
8. Calculate what Oromia would lose if OPDO is not part of EPRDF (for instance is there any benefit for Oromia to be in EPRDF coalition better than Gambella or Afar?). Withdrawal from EPRDF is a possibility without, withdrawing from the federation.
In conclusion, if OPDO remains to be controlled by the same tools designed by TPLF and abides by the unfair laws unchanged, it will never achieve any remarkable success. There is no a level playing field. The rules of the game are prepared by TPLF. Therefore, to play on the field where TPLF is both a player and a referee, OPDO will continue to be a loser. It will be trapped in the same vicious circle and remain to host the parasitic TPLF being consumed, of course, letting the Oromo people down as usual.

Hyenas in the olden days and hyenas of our time

Tullu Liban
An Amharic proverb has it that once upon a time a hyena went to a foreign land where nobody knew him he was a carnivorous. They say the hyena told his hosts to get him a bed made of skin for the night. I think that hyena was so scrupulous and polite that he never tried to cheat the people who knew that he could never sleep on a bed made of skin. Thus, he left the people who knew him and tried to pretend he was a good guest in a foreign land.

Hyenas of our time are shameless. They are so rude when they cry wolf. They don’t understand the intelligence of the people who know them from day one of their birth to their adult age. Hyenas of our time eat everything even sacks let alone skins. And yet, they want to have a skin made bed for their nap. Everybody knows that they eat any bit of mattresses made of skins.

These are the TPLF hyenas and the OPDO foxes. In the tales, our parents told us foxes are servants of hyenas. They told us that foxes hunt for hyenas and eat the leftover when hyenas are full. This analogy works exactly for TPLF masters and OPDO servants.
OPDOs have no the slightest moral ground to brag about economic revolution and tell the public that the Oromo people are their only masters. ( Someone quoted Lemma Megerssa as saying in his speech at the 27th birthday anniversary of OPDO). No, no OPDO boys and oldies. Your master is TPLF. Your masters are not Oromos. There are uncountable evidences to justify this fact. Do you want to know some of your scandals?
Defend these ones if you can, though.

1. TPLF created you in Tigray and told you your birth place was Dherra in Oromia. You told the public for 24 years or so you were born at Dherra. For the reason your masters know (not you) they told you to retell the public you were born in Tigray. You did so. Shame on you!
2. TPLF told you, you are one of the coalition members in EPRDF and that you each would run endowments as TPLF, OPDO, ANDM and SPDM. You were told you would each rlook after Guna, Dinsho, Ambasael and Wondo in that order. For sure Dinsho died because the masters told you to kill it while Guna has grown to a multi-billion and multi-sector company. I doubt if Wondo had better destiny than Dinsho. Ambasel is in its death bed.
3. You were told that Fana Radio (which is now called Fana Broadcasting Corporate) was the property of the four “coalition” members (TPLF, OPDO, ANDM and SPDM). You have never been part of it and it remained to be the property of TPLF.
4. You were initially told and declared in your constitution that Finfinnee is the seat of Oromia state. Ten years later you were told by the masters to evacuate hurriedly from Finfinnee and camp in Adama disregarding protests of the Oromo people. You cracked down on Mecha and Tulama and failed at least to protest in unison with the Oromo people.
5. As part of the Oromo people’s protest against the move of Oromia seat from Finfinnee, Oromo students across the country demonstrated peacefully. Finfinnee University students were in the forefront. Your masters fired 320 Oromo students in a single day from the university, killed some and jailed others. The masters told you to endorse the action. Junedi Saddo, your head, proudly appeared on a TV screen and blessed the barbaric measure.
6. When CUD shook the TPLF government the masters ordered you via telephone to come back to Finfinnee. You immediately rushed back, without any precondition. Even you didn’t wait at least to nullify the law you had enacted to move to Adama.
7. You were told right after elections 2005 that there would be established 10 high schools in the ten sub cities of Finfinnee to teach in Afan Oromo and Abadula Gemeda put cornerstones in each of the places meant for the construction of the schools. Nothing has been materialized over 12 years.
8. In 2011 the So-called Oromo Development Association (ODA), a lame organization considered as a private property of AWAD Jibril bragged to mobilize 3 billion (three billion birr) in a telethon to undertake various development projects in Oromia. Many Oromo children were motivated by the rhetoric made by Mulugeta Debebe, then ODA president, that the dream would come true. However, your masters told you to stop such kind of effort in favor of the Renaissance Dam. You zipped your mouth. You remember that in 2010 Amhara Development Association collected 1 billion birr in a telethon for similar purpose.
9. From 2015 November to 2016 October Oromia was on fire. Still the region is on hidden fire. Your masters killed Oromo children, pregnant, elders and students. They ordered you to celebrate the killings. Muktar Kedir appeared, (then your head) on a TV screen and thanked the killers and appreciated the sniper bullets that hit heads and chests of our people.
10. Your masters deployed killing regiments in various peripheral parts of Oromia (South and East) in particular, under the guise of ethnic conflicts with the neighboring tribes. You know that tribes don’t have heavy weapons, military uniform and trucks to invade Oromia. Even your spokesperson Addisu Arega told the VOA Amharic news that the armed invaders in the south and the east are in military uniforms. You kept quiet.
So, how do you boast of economic revolution as if the Oromo people don’t know your role in the system you are serving? Lol I expect you to appropriately refute these facts. Don’t shout like empty vessel. If you can’t refute, don’t talk and brag nonsense.

Ethiopia: After a year of protests, time to address grave human rights concerns

Report from Amnesty International

Nearly one year on from the start of a wave of protests that has left at least 800 people dead at the hands of security forces, the Ethiopian government must take concrete steps to address grave human rights concerns in the country, Amnesty International said today.

The protests began in the central Oromia region on 12 November 2015, in opposition to the Addis Ababa Masterplan, a government plan to extend the capital Addis Ababa’s administrative control into parts of the Oromia.

 

A year after these deadly protests began, tensions in Ethiopia remain high and the human rights situation dire
Michelle Kagari, Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes

“A year after these deadly protests began, tensions in Ethiopia remain high and the human rights situation dire, with mass arrests internet shutdowns and sporadic clashes between the security forces and local communities, especially in the north of the country,” said Michelle Kagari, Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes.

“It’s high time the Ethiopian authorities stopped paying lip service to reform and instead took concrete steps to embrace it, including by releasing the myriad political prisoners it is holding merely for expressing their opinions. They should also repeal the repressive laws that imprisoned them in the first place, including the draconian Anti-Terrorism Proclamation that has also contributed to the unrest.”

Even after the Addis Ababa Masterplan was scrapped in January 2016, protests continued with demonstrators demanding an end to human rights violations, ethnic marginalization and the continued detention of Oromo leaders.

The protests later expanded into the Amhara region with demands for an end to arbitrary arrests and ethnic marginalization. They were triggered by attempts by the security forces to arrest Colonel Demeka Zewdu, one of the leaders of the Wolqait Identity and Self-Determination Committee, on alleged terrorism offences. Wolqait, an administrative district in the Tigray region, has been campaigning for reintegration into the Amhara region, to which it belonged until 1991.

Just as in Oromia, security forces responded with excessive and lethal force in their efforts to quell the protests. Amnesty International estimates that at least 800 people have been killed since the protests began, most of them in the two regions.

The Ethiopian government’s heavy-handed response to largely peaceful protests started a vicious cycle of protests and totally avoidable bloodshed. If it does not address the protesters’ grievances, we are concerned that it is only a matter of time before another round of unrest erupts
Michelle Kagari, Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes

One of the worst single incidents took place on 2 October 2016 when at least 55 people were trampled to death in a stampede during the Oromo religious festival of Irrecha, held in the town of Bishoftu, about 45 kilometres southeast of Addis Ababa. Oromo activists blamed the stampede on the security forces who they said fired live rounds and tear gas into the crowd causing a panic. The authorities deny any wrongdoing.

No protests have been observed since a state of emergency was declared on 9 October, but this has come at the steep price of increased human rights violations, including mass arbitrary arrests and media restrictions, including internet blockages.

“The Ethiopian government’s heavy-handed response to largely peaceful protests started a vicious cycle of protests and totally avoidable bloodshed. If it does not address the protesters’ grievances, we are concerned that it is only a matter of time before another round of unrest erupts,” said Michelle Kagari.

“The restrictive measures imposed as part of the state of emergency only sweeps the underlying issues under the carpet. To fully address the situation, the government must genuinely commit to human rights, including by amending legislation like the anti-terrorism proclamation to bring it fully in line with Ethiopia’s human rights obligations; and ensure its people can enjoy their right to express their opinions including those which criticise government policy and action; and their right to peaceful assembly.”

Background

Ethiopia’s Anti-Terrorism Proclamation of 2009 includes an overly broad and vague definition of terrorist acts and a definition of “encouragement of terrorism” that makes the publication of statements “likely to be understood as encouraging terrorist acts” punishable by 10 to 20 years in prison.

The ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) has repeatedly promised to undertake fundamental reform in governance, but has shown no overt sign of genuine commitment to reform. It continues to use excessive force against largely peaceful protesters, labelling them as anti-peace forces, instead of acknowledging and addressing their legitimate grievances.

WESTERN DONORS SHOULD END THEIR SUPPORT FOR THE MINORITY REGIME IN ETHIOPIA

By Gutu Olana
Dictators are in a constant battle of gaining meaning to their existence by denying meaningful life to others. Through its atrocious actions and inactions, the TPLF/EPRDF has taken the animosity between itself and the people of Ethiopia to another threshold. It has completely lost the shred of legitimacy it had in few quarters when assuming power in 1991.

It is incumbent on us – the people – to struggle for the restoration of our humanity and dignity. Although the primary responsibility to liberate ourselves rests upon us, we should not underestimate the role of the international community in this life-and-death situation. Since November 2015, over 600 people have been killed, thousands wounded, and tens of thousands imprisoned in Oromia, by government forces, while protesting peacefully. Over 100 people have been killed in Oromia and Amhara regions only during the last weekend.

Most of the financial aid is given in the name of development and social services. While the dictators in Ethiopia are busy killing and detaining innocent people across Oromia and Amhara regions – not doing development or running social services – the World Bank is busy processing 1.2 billion USD in new aid for the regime.

It should be noted that, following the bloody 2005 elections during which about 200 people were killed by government forces, the Bank introduced a slightly tightened control system, which it has progressively loosened. Through the Program-for-Results Financing (PforR), it is currently implementing a scheme that is consequentially similar to the direct budget support it used to run before the 2005 elections. The “Results” in the “PforR” is to be confirmed by a mere report by the government, and the World Bank has no verification system of its own. The effect is that the regime will be able to divert the fund away from the intended purposes, including using it for enforcing tyranny.

To aid the government of Ethiopia in this time, when it is perpetrating a brutal crackdown against peaceful protesters, is an antithesis of development/public service and painful for the people suffering under the current regime. Remember, actions become eventful not only in themselves but also in relation to the context in which they take place. On both sides of the actions, there are human beings – those who stand with the authoritarian regime to enforce repression and those who suffer the consequences.

It is unfortunate and outrageous that the international donor community has refused to seriously consider the plight of the oppressed and continued to offer diplomatic, financial, and military aid to the oppressor. By doing so, the donor community supported dictatorship and serious human rights violations and deferred the dawn of freedom against the oppressed. They chose to support an authoritarian, minority regime in contradiction with the values they ostensibly advocate for – hypocrisy can only start to explain this blatant contradiction. It is unfortunate that the people of Ethiopia will have to put up with this agonizing reality.

It has been repeatedly said that dictators do not learn from history and, I add, hypocrites do not learn from history either. Allies of the TPLF/EPRDF regime are in a moral bankruptcy, with alarming consequences. We hold them morally responsible for sustained repression of the people of Ethiopia. Those who continue to directly and indirectly support a regime that kills, maims, and tortures innocent people will be held responsible in the court of public opinion and leave a bloody history for generations to come.

The delay of freedom and justice is very costly to all the oppressed people of Ethiopia, the cohorts of the regime, and the world at large. However, the quest for these virtuous goals will continue and, no matter how long it takes, will ultimately hit its desired destination. Then comes a time when redressing current moral bankruptcy of the international community becomes impossible. Nonetheless, today has offered non-ignorable options for all to consider seriously.

Out of faith in the inner sincerity of human beings and humanity’s united yearning for liberty and justice, I appeal to the citizens and tax payers of Western donor countries to hold their governments accountable and demand an end to financial, diplomatic, and military support to the authoritarian regime of Ethiopia, which is turning the country into war zone. Behold donors and Western allies of the minority regime, the struggle in Ethiopia may soon enter a massively new phase.

Merera Gudina: Oromo protests and the future of Oromo struggle

A keynote address by Merera Gudina, chairman of the Oromo Federalist Congress, at the 2016 Oromo Studies Association (OSA) annual conference.

Introduction

I am here today to talk more about ourselves than the regime in power about whom I have been talking for a quarter of a century. I want to share my thoughts with you openly and honestly because I believe we have reached a stage where open, frank and honest discussion are necessary to lead our people towards the ultimate goal of liberation in our long journey to freedom. As we march forward, we should be honest to ourselves and to our people.

Exactly twenty two years ago, I presented a paper on how to democratize multi-ethnic polities like Ethiopia at the International Conference on Ethiopian Studies held at Michigan State University.

I then argued that “Oromos are the best candidate and centrally placed in terms of history, geography and demography to lead the country’s democratization drive. I even further argued that “Oromos can better claim that they are nearer to the Menilek palace at Arat kilo than those who came from Menez yesterday and Adwa today”. Some Oromo nationalists who found my ideas infuriating painted me as if I am playing the role of Gobana of the 19th century. In fact, they accused me of treason against the interest of our people. Undeterred, I continued to do what expected of me as much as I have understood the trends of Oromo politics, Ethiopian politics, African politics and global politics – all of which I had taught at Addis Ababa University for twenty eight years before I was pushed out because of my involvement in national politics.

Over the last quarter century, Oromo activists have grown matured politically. I have also outgrown my views. All of us have transcended our limitations. We find ourselvesin the same boat in the rising tide of Oromo nationalism. Today, Oromo nationalism a rising boat that is able to accommodate all of us. Without going to details many Oromos including Gadaa (Tesfaye) Gebreab have started to write about Merera’s way. It is with this new spirit that I am addressing OSA as a Keynote speaker twenty two years later.

The rise of modern Oromo nationalism

Let me say few things regarding the rise of modern Oromo nationalism and the major turning points thereof. As you might aware, the conjuncture of two episodes: the creation of Matcha and Tulama Association at the centre and the Bale uprising have immensely contributed to the birth of modern Oromo nationalism. They served as the first turning point and/or a great awakening for the Oromos.

To be sure, the Bale uprising has had a major impact not only on the rise of modern Oromo nationalism but also it had an important influence on the Ethiopian Student Movement that brought down Ethiopia’s ancien regime in 1974. I remember in the heydays of the Ethiopian Student Movement abroad: which way to the revolution: the Bale way or the Bole way had been an important question of tactics. The Bale way symbolized the determined militants’ way while the Bole way symbolized the way of softer revolutionaries. EPRP was the best example of the Bale way as it tried to come through Asimba – the replacement for Bale while MEISON represented the softer Bole way. In short the Bale uprising captured the imagination of the militant generation that brought about the 1974 popular revolution.

The second turning point in Oromo nationalism came with the revolution of 1974, which answered the most popular demand of the generation: “land to the tiller” in which Oromos and the rest of the southern peoples benefited most as serfdom and/tenancy was abolished. In fact, without exaggeration the radical land reform of 1975 was what made the Ethiopian revolution a revolution and the single most important victory for the Oromos and the rest of the southern peoples in the last 150 years. In a nutshell, it broke the economic backbone of the Neftegna system –rule by the gun.

Oromo intellectuals of the generation fully supported and implemented the historic “land to the tiller” proclamation. The end of tenancy and Oromos reclaiming of their ancestral land was historic in the sense that it marked the end of the Neftegnasystem – a great leap forward in our people’s march for freedom. It was the answer to the land question, which made the Ethiopian revolution of 1974 a revolution that moved millions of people into making a new history. Sadly, this is the historic gainthat the TPLF is bent on reversing under the guise of development. Under the current drive of land grab – the slogan “land to the tiller” is turned into ‘land to the investors’. That is why the Oromo youth are dying under the slogan “stop the land grab, lafti keenya, lafee keenya”.

Oromo intellectuals of the revolutionary generation failed to use wisely the opportune moment created by the revolution and the land reform. In other words, the second turning point in the history of modern Oromo nationalism had a negative dimension. To be more precise, the division which is still with us today started with the revolution of 1974. The inexperienced Oromo revolutionaries were seriously divided on the way forward. Some opted for socialism, i.e. transformation of Ethiopia as whole while others were attracted to the more radical version of Oromo nationalism and started to fight for the creation of Oromia republic. MEISON symbolized the socialist project while ECHAT – later OLF symbolized the more radical form of Oromo nationalism. Two contradictory slogans subsequently emerged: ‘red Gobena’ ,referring to the Oromo socialists within MEISON and ‘narrow nationalists’, referring to ECHAT and OLF members. The division consigned Oromo revolutionaries of the day into different camps. ECHAT and OLF members had extravagantly used the ‘red Gobana’ tag against the MEISON members while the MEISON members used the same extravagancy in calling ECHAT and OLF members ‘narrow nationalists’. The cost was too high for all of us. Consequently, the cream of that radical generation was decimated in the crisis that followed while some of us who escaped death passed our best years in prison cells – probably more horrible than the present ones.

The third turning point in modern Oromo nationalism came in 1991 when the OLF joined the transitional government controlled by the TPLF and EPRDF. The OLF despite its military weakness was able to mobilize people across Oromia. Millions of people were rallied behind the OLF and it suddenly became a major political force. Moreover, the Oromia region was created and Oromiffa has become a working language in Oromia. In fact, for a brief period of time OLF had become a government within a government in Oromia. And people thought total freedom was around the corner. The TPLF, which was watching the dramatic rise of the OLF very quickly moved to use its OPDO surrogates to crush the OLF. Despite its far less impressive military performance, the OLF has survived the TPLF’s military machine and has become the spirit of Oromo nationalism. I don’t remember how many times the EPRDF regime declared the OLF is dead in the last twenty five years and accuse the next day the OLF is being behind this or that incident and round up many young Oromos as terrorists. In other words, although militarily less effective, the OLF has shown a remarkable capacity to survive.

All along the EPRDF has been using its illegitimate child (Diqala) to rule the Oromia region by the use of sheer force and the consequent confrontation between the OLF and the Ethiopian regime has been too costly for the OLF and the Oromo people at large. However, a good thing here is that the rising tide of Oromo nationalism has persisted with its ups and downs and the regime could not fully suppress it.

In the meantime as Oromo resistance has continued, the Oromo National Congress was created in 1996. It made a good showing in the 2005 elections. Moreover, it has become yet another alternative in the Oromo people’s quest for freedom and democracy. It also opened yet another front in the struggle by using the legal platform created by the regime for donors’ consumption. It also survived the regime’s political surgery following the 2005 elections and five years later merged with another Oromo legal organization – the Oromo Federalist Democratic Movement (OFDM) and formed the Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC). The merger helped the unity of our people and enhanced our capacity to lead the struggle at home. Needless to add the rise of ONC/OFC brought back the Oromo dilemma: which way to the liberation of the Oromos? Needless to add the resolution of this dilemma is extremely important for the future of our people in its quest for freedom & democracy. We are yet to learn how to work with each other and our neighbors for a common national interest.

The Oromo Protest

The fourth turning point in the history of modern Oromo nationalism is the Oromo protest. To be sure, the 2014 Oromo protest in which about 78 people, mostly young people were killed, has been a precursor for the current protest, which is much more strong, wide spread and a mortal threat to the regime. Several factors contributed to the outbreak of the protest. Here, it is important to note that although it is difficult to apportion credits – as most Oromo organizations including the OPDO have contributed at different levels and arguably for different interest.interest. The OMN has done marvelous job in bringing the protest to the world stage. Oromo artists have also been at the forefront of the struggle – people like Haachaaluu Hundeesa, ChalaBultum, MuluBekele, Gelana, JamboJotie, etc. moved millions for the struggle by their appealing songs.

As you all know, the causes of the protests are many: chief of which are the historical marginalization of the Oromos as well as the continued marginalization, the dangerously growing corruption, maladministration and the discrimination thereof, the existence of the OPDO as a wound in Oromo nationalism, youth unemployment, etc; while the extensive land grab and the displacement thereof is a triggering factor. In a nutshell, the Oromo people as a whole and the youth in particular have been fed up with regime that successfully failed to promise them a better future.

Without minimizing the role of other Oromo organizations let me briefly tell you the contribution of the Oromo Federalist Congress to the on-going struggle. Our most important contribution has been the most effective campaign we were able to conduct during the 2015 elections. And thanks to the support of the Oromo Diaspora, we were able to organize a campaign that moved millions across Oromia. We could field more than ten land cruisers armed with loud speakers more for than two months. We were able to conduct street to street campaigns, organize mass rallies as high as 80 – 100,000 and distributed more than 3 million fliers containing clear messages to the youth, the farmers, the OPDOs as well as the security personnel in Oromia. I recall a police man who wept at our rally in Ambo when I said “you were born to an Oromo family, brought up by Oromo’s milk, when you die it is Oromo’s who will give you a decent burial, don’t kill your brothers and sisters to serve the interest of others”.

The inspiring mass rallies we had in Arsi, especially in Shashamane, Dodolla, Karsa and Shalla; the public meetings we had in Adama and Ciro stadiums; the rallies of fearless youth in KarsaMalima, South-west Shewa; the rallies we had in Hollota, Ginchi, Jaldu and Gindeberet, the turnout we got in Ambo, Guder, Gedo, MedaKegn, Bako, Shamboo, Nekempt, Gimhbi and Dembi Dollo, our rally in Bule Hora and finally the horses of Tikur-Inchini were all memorable rallies which taken together moved millions, especially the Oromo youth. In the 3 million fliers we distributed and in the mass rallies we organized our messages were loud and clear: they include “stop land grab, stop robbing the resources of our people, stop repression, stop discrimination, etc.”

We also promised lower taxation, lower fertilizer price and selected seeds and above all equal opportunity for employment and making Oromiffa the national language of the country alongside Amharic. Of course the creation of true federalism and democratic governance –i.e. genuine shared-rule and self-rule were at the centre of our campaign messages. In fact, the OPDOs were carrying bags of money to buy the votes of our people while our strategy was to mobilize people to the maximum of our capacity. By doing so we were able to expose the crimes of the TPLF/EPRDF regime to the full. I think, millions of Oromo youth we moved during the elections have taken their lessons seriously and applied their knowledge in the on-going struggle.

Moreover, after the elections when the OPDO brought back the Master Plan through the back door– we immediately called a public meeting at our office – under the slogan “stop the land grab and/or laftikenya, lafekenya”. And We called all Oromos to oppose the new land grab after the land reform of 1975. In fact, we compared the new land grab to the imperial days of land grab. I think, this immensely contributed to the resistance that followed.

Without exaggeration, the protest not only has become the fourth turning point in modern Oromo nationalism, it helped Oromos to make a great leap forward to the ultimate goal of liberation. Furthermore, it brought respect for Oromos both from their neighbors and the international community. Western diplomats and journalists most of whom might have never heard about Oromos crisscrossed Oromia to gauge the level and depth of Oromo protest. Oromos are suddenly recognized “Ethiopia’s largest ethnic group”. The protest has become the reminiscent of the Gada warriors of the 16th century and Oromos suddenly found new faith in themselves and started to believe that liberation is in their owns hands and within reach. I myself who have seen the revolutionary upheaval of 1974 and the overthrow of the military regime in 1991 was surprised when millions moved into action across the vast land of Oromia in a very short period of time.

As I said earlier, for the first time in Oromo history foreign diplomats, parliamentarians and journalists roamed the Oromo streets to understand the cause and the depth of Oromo protests. I remember what one day a young Dutch scholar asked me. She said to me “I am going to Ginchi and should I take a tablet for malaria?”. I told her “Ginchi is in a high land area and no need for it and asked her what you do there?”. With force she said “I want to see with my own eyes, the birth place of Oromo protest”. In summary, the Oromo youth have shown us the path to liberation with their blood by crossing the organizational divides and acting in unity as a result of which both our neighbors and the international community started to respect us as a people. Furthermore, it has opened a new chapter in the Oromo people’s struggle for freedom and democracy, which is a great leap forward – at that a new turning point. I dare say, Ethiopia will never be the same again. The protest has shown us what a united & determined people can achieve in the face of various challenges.

Every media outlet from American presses to BBC – to French Radio International and Aljazeera talked to us and covered the protests that were taking place even in the remote Oromia villages. Every western diplomat based in Addis talked to us. I remember American. British, Dutch, Swedish, German, Norway as well as the European Union parliamentarians discussing with us regarding the dimension and direction of the Oromo protest. The Oromos, who have been forgotten by the world powers, suddenly become the centre of their attention.

Reasons as to why non-Oromos are not attracted to join the Oromo protest until now may be many, but we can single out two main factors: one is what all of you know – fear of the Oromo separation agenda from many quarters. The other is what many people have not fully grasped – Oromos now have two political forces that have real life among the Oromo people – the OLF and OFC There are no comparable political groups in other regional states. Despite its weakness as an organization, the OLF has always been there to inspire the Oromo youth. Since 2005 the ONC – now the OFC has been using to the extent possible the legal platform.

Thanks to the support of the Diaspora including OMN, OFC was able to move millions of Oromo youth across the vast land of Oromia. In a nutshell, there is no political party that could capture the imagination of the youth in other regions of Ethiopia. To make my points clearer, if they had the capacity to do it, more than the solidarity, they could have joined the struggle with their own demands as they have plenty of them from Walkeit to the sale of land to the Sudan – to political repression and youth unemployment. To me understanding such differences is very important to plan for the future struggle.

The third important difference is that Oromo nationalism has passed the stage where Oromo quislings or traitors could not easily control. Surprisingly, more than three million OPDO members could not resist the rising tide of Oromo nationalism: some quickly gave in; some joined the popular uprising while some die-hards tried to stop the forward march of history. The Amhara youth have not reached that stage and the hodam Amharas still in control of the situation. To be sure, the Amhara mobilization is much stronger in the Diaspora while in the case of the Oromo – mobilization in the home front – especially that of the youth is much more united and stronger than abroad. The fourth difference is – the Diaspora Oromo activists are more connected to the grass root in the home front and hence have got much more influence over the youth at home. For all practical purposes the youth at home look at people like Jawar as their commander in-chief in their war against the regime. I don’t see comparable influence in the case of Amhara youth.

The dilemma over the road map to liberation and Our Chronic Division

The Arab world’s most known journalist, Mohammad Hykal, who had been very angry at the division of the Arab leaders once said “the Arab leaders met, agreed to disagree”. This is what has become the culture of Oromo political leaders for more than a generation. Let us admit that Oromo political parties are yet to learn how to aggregate their interest to work for a win – win situation by developing the art of compromise in our politics. The same applies to the larger Ethiopia. In addition to learning the art of compromise – to reach our ultimate goal, unity of purpose and action should be our guiding principle. We should be able to differentiate between the role of liberation movements and political parties struggling for power in a normal situation. We need to talk to each other, not over each other; we should stop dialogue of the deaf and listen to each other. Especially, we should know the consequences of our actions.

One of the most serious setbacks/we even can call it a disease of Oromo movements and/or political leadership is their failure to handle political differences and easily jumping to character assassinations of all kinds, especially when old friends take different political positions. Far worse, the blind followers easily follow the words of their superiors and jump to attack the new enemy they have created. I think the solution for this is to openly and honestly debate over our differences as well as on the way forward without demonizing each other. I believe internal democracy is necessary to tackle real political differences. Yet another serious problem in Oromo political organizations is lack of political dynamism both in our thinking and actions. And because of fear of each other, it takes years for Oromo political leaders to adopt new policies even when the reality on the ground demand quick action and moving fast.

Frankly speaking, because of our weakness, we could not produce a strong leader like the Eritreans or a collective leadership like the TPLF until Meles pushed aside the rest of his comrades to emerge as a sole dictator. We are also not good at establishing better cooperation with our neighbors and minimize our enemies. We really need to create real alliances that help us to move forward. I hope we understand even the mighty America creates both tactical and strategic alliances across the globe to promote its interests.

Sadly and surprisingly, the war over the internet has continued among Oromo political forces even at a point in time when the Oromo youth is writing a new history with their blood. No less surprising, I heard some even suggesting that there is no need for political organizations and the dispersed movement alone could do the job. To be sure, as much as I have understood both national and global politics – beyond a shadow of doubt, more than any point in time in the history of Oromo people’s struggle, our people need organization/organizations that can lead them across the finishing line to victory. To suggest otherwise is disarming our people and sabotaging their victory. Probably the suggestion may come out of political naiveties or frustration with existing organizations.

Whatever its sources, it is a self-defeating suggestion for which Oromos may pay very dearly. In this regard, all Oromos cannot be policy makers and while we reserve our right to oppose or support any Oromo organization, we should be careful in innocently selling the strategy of the enemy to our people as no people succeeded without leadership in modern history.

In our division, the worst and costly division is which came to us through the OPDOs. Originally the OPDOs were forced to join the wrong side of history as prisoners of war. Later most of them joined the wrong side of history willingly for their stomachs. Surprisingly, when OPDOs recruit members, they never, never, never talk about the cause of the Oromo people as they fully know they are not there to promote the cause of their people. In the Diaspora they always say “come and get the land for free” while at home they say “you get land, employment and/ or become an official to live good life”. Here, let me narrate to you my own experience.

A friend of mine, the elder brother of Hassan Ali (former president of the Oromia region), who then just joined the government asked me to join the OPDO. He told me that the OPDO was ordered to nominate nine Muslims and nine Christians as a quota to high office. I think they could not do that easily as many Oromo intellectuals were then supporters of the OLF. When he understood, I was not attracted to the lucrative high office, he said to me that “manas, makinashinargetajedheni” (i.e. I thought you can get a house, a car). This is the way millions of Oromos have joined the OPDOs and to use the words of Walter Rodney – the West Indies historian – “removed from history”. I think, we have a real challenge to bring them back to history these lost children of Oromia – by liberating them both from their stomachs and their masters.

The good thing is the Oromo protest has shown us is that the more than three million OPDO members – either because of their isolation, confusion or some level of Oromo nationalism retained in them – they could not stop the protest and the government had to send in its Agazi force and the federal police known for their notoriety to suppress the protest by sheer force.

The Challenges to our Intellectuals

Oromo intellectuals have developed a very bad culture of criticizing others by expecting from them miracles than taking practical actions themselves. Far worse, jealously (masanuma) has become a whole mark of our political culture. Oromo youth at home have broken it with their blood and it is high time that Oromo intellectuals and political leaders do the same to move forward. And whatever the source of the problem, this is yet our common disease we should overcome as quickly as possible.

Furthermore, the main challenge to Oromo intellectuals at home and abroad is how to participate in the struggle in a more meaningful way. The decisive moment has come when our intellectuals stop tailing the people’s struggle and start to contribute to the struggle in their brains and resources. Frankly speaking, what I hate to hear from our intellectuals is that they always say we are with you, but do nothing or very little in terms of contribution. I know Oromo intellectuals live in fear at home. I do not know how many of you in the Diaspora fully contributing to the struggle both in your brains and resources. What I generally hear is lamentations after lamentations about the weakness of this or that Oromo political organization. Who else is leading a better way, if our intellectuals are not joining the struggle in numbers and lead Oromo organizations more effectively?

I strongly urge you, if you wish success of the common struggle to join any organization of your choice and improve the quality of leadership for Oromo organizations. Some of you may tell me you are tired of supporting organizations that could not bring quick success. I remind you that success depends on the contribution of all of us to make our organizations and our struggle strong. For instance, intellectuals can better create think tanks for political organizations and help them perform better. Intellectuals can bring in the experiences of other successful nations. They can easily identify problems through empirical study and suggest viable solutions. They can invest their resources in the struggle while the Oromo youth invest their blood. What I am saying is that if we have the will, there are several ways to contribute.

I challenge Oromo intellectuals while the Oromo youth is writing a new history with its blood they should come out to honestly debate on the way forward so as help us to reach a national consensus. And as we fight to make our history, we also should be able to read the reality on the ground – and make hard choices based on facts – not on our wishes. I strongly believe compared to other groups in Ethiopia – Oromos should have very little worry about their future if they know how to play their game. What they should resolve as quickly as possible is their own little dilemma: which way to go forward and overcome the chronic division between Oromo political forces. Now the world has started to know us and understand us, we should do our homework as we claim our future so that we be people worthy of support. We should be able to learn the lessons of the lost opportunities in 1974; 1991 and 2005.

Oromo movements should be informed by current developments in global politics and listen to each other. To be frank with you Oromo artists have made more contribution to the protests than oromo intellectuals. One day – I met an Oromo artist from Ambo and asked him whether he is still around with his fiery songs. He boldly and confidently told me that “should we go to the bush even to sing?”. I haven’t seen comparable courage and confidence in my intellectual colleagues. In fact, what I always get when I meet them is an advice – “ofegi – becareful”.

Furthermore, the younger artists have really replaced the legendary singers: Ali Birra, Tsegaye Dandena, Kemer Yousef, ect; with their moving songs. I really wish Oromo intellectuals have the same courage.

Yet another main challenge to Oromo intellectuals is to go beyond driving expensive cars and buying good houses. I am not opposing doing that, if you are committed intellectuals, you can still have more resources to contribute to the liberation of our people. Honestly speaking I know a lot of Oromo friends in the Diaspora complaining, complaining and complaining about the cost of living in America to contribute for our organization 100 USD, but minutes later when we take more beer start to ask me about investment opportunities in Ethiopia.

Problems related to Resource Mobilization

I don’t know about other Oromo political organizations, the budget of our party is less than 10% of the price of a car a government spy or a TPLF businessman drives. In the 21st century we can only compete with enough resources and technology. We should not expect our organizations to deliver what we want unless we help them to develop the capacity to deliver.

If we know how to do it and the commitment to do it, there are several ways to do it. If the statistics I heard in Mennisota is correct, Oromos in the Diaspora from the America’s to Europe, the Middle East to Australia are more than 100,000. And if we have 100,000 Oromos in the Diaspora and they contribute One-Dollar –A Day as some say, I,.e. pay a tip of one dollar for the cause as you give a tip when you eat, we can raise 100,000 USD per day, 3,000,000 USD per month and 36,500,000 USD per year, i.e nearly one billion Ethiopian Birr. Even if this is less than an annual income of one TPLF businessman, this is a huge money for a political party like ours and we don’t even have to go to the bush to do the job. With that much of resource at our disposal we can become a real force and able to turn Oromo cities and towns to our bush.

Just imagine what can be done if all of you sponsor the struggle back home in the village you were born, woreda or zone. In this regard, even if I am extremely glad our Diaspora brothers and sisters have made a great leap forward in supporting our struggle at home, the older faces I know are still in their old politics. The best example is Minnesota, where almost all the older faces I know, did not show up even when we opened our first office in the western world. It appears, they have continued to be loyal to their old habits of doing things. As the saying goes – you cannot teach old dogs new tricks. They are yet to learn the success of one Oromo organization is the success for others too. I strongly advise them to engage in soul searching to transform themselves before they are discarded by history.

Yet another problem connected to our use of even the meager resources we mobilize is that Oromos are better at giving support for the victims/funerals than supporting political organizations that supposed to lead the struggle. Far worse, very often the money sent home end in the hands of OPDO spies. In this regard, a person I know well told me he gave 160,000 Birr to a spy in Ambo. I don’t know how much resources have been lost and being lost in such a way – which could have been used for the liberation of our people. In other words, we are not mobilizing enough resources for the struggle while which is raised is not properly and effectively used. Be sure that from this side of the planet, you cannot know who is who? Quislings of all sorts can easily get access to resource and divert it. I advise you to double check and recheck resources you send home – as it can be wasted like foreign aid to African dictators. In fact, I don’t know how much money the Diaspora sends that reach the needy. Taken as a whole, the message I want to pass is that we are not properly using even the resources we have mobilized.

Lack of Organizational Skill

One thing we should admit and overcome as quickly as possible is our organizational weakness. Organizations are central for any struggle to succeed. I still remember a slogan most popularized by EshetuChole, one of the most radical intellectuals of our generation at Addis Ababa University. He shouted a slogan:

One organize

Two organize;

Three organize

at the inauguration of the last leadership of the University Students Union of Addis Ababa, the famous USUAA, which was supported by the roaring sound of thousands of university staff and students. In this regard, there is a clear gap we should fill. As to my observation, Oromos never had an organization that matches their numerical strength for the last 500 years – i.e. since the Gada warriors of the 16th century. We need new skills to organize ourselves and back it up with the necessary resources. Our main problem is the failure to understand our potential and use it effectively in a way it makes a real difference. To be sure, the game of the 21st century is that of technology and resources for any organization to succeed.

As I raised above, another serious problem I see regarding Oromo organizations is that everybody is a policy maker. We have a right to oppose or support our leaders but, forty million Oromos cannot make their own individual policies for this or that party. We need leaders to lead us. To me, the best way forward is to build an organization/organizations that can lead the people for liberation and able to negotiate with force when necessary. To be sure, the real gap in our people’s struggle is the failure to build such organizations. Here , we should know a divided elite cannot lead a united nation. Don’t also forget that we succeed as a people and fall as a people. Hence, we should fight for our freedom as a people by overcoming our petty organizational and other differences.

Our People’s Struggle and the Disturbing American Foreign Policy

Let me raise the issue you all know well, American foreign policy troubles us. American diplomats have had the culture of working with the powers that be and winning and dinning with dictators. During the Cold War dictators from Chile’s Pinochet to Africa’s Mobutu – to Mubarak’s Egypt – to Philippines Marcos had wined and dined with successive American presidents. In our own situation, successive American leaders supported Emperor Haile Sellassie until the end came to his rotting regime.

As sometimes history is repeating itself, now they are doing the same for the EPRDF regime and may continue to do until the end. In one of my encounters with American officials after Obama’s shameful speech in Addis Ababa where he delighted his host by saying “you were elected by the people of Ethiopia,” I almost quarreled with the officials. I think the officials came to rebuild Obama’s damaged image. I told the officials “you are propping up the Ethiopian regime and consciously look away from its crimes”. He got angry and said “American foreign policy has three legs: humanitarian aid, development and security” and added “are you questioning our security arrangement with the Ethiopian regime”? I responded “whose security?- the security of the Ethiopian dictators or the security of the Ethiopian people?” A good thing is that about a month later, the Oromo protest, which surprised the Americans came. His lieutenant came back and at least visited Ambo.

Obviously the EPRDF regime is propped up by Western Governments, especially the big brothers. Even after I came here I visited some offices and their usual question is America’s security arrangement with the Ethiopian regime, which has always been at a standby and ready to serve them when they need it for peace keeping across Africa, especially in the Horn of Africa. It is such a story the American Embassy in Ethiopia is telling us. The real challenge to us is to draw a strategy that can move the West to go beyond their myopic security interest that led them to support the minority regime in Ethiopia. Mass rallies in front of the White House or the State Department are good and one of the options in our hands. I support them. But I always say both God and the Americans help those who help themselves.

Therefore, it is far better to build an organization/organizations that can speak to the Western governments and the EPRDF regime at home. Without backing up our diplomacy with force and building giant organizations that can talk and walk their talk, I don’t think we can move far. The real challenge is how to do our homework first before we beg others to help us.

In sum, in the last 20 years, I don’t remember how many times I visited the State Department, talked to senators and the congressmen & women. We could win-over only Donald Paine, who shifted his support to the opposition after the 2005 elections. As far as I can Judge from several of my encounters with American diplomats and my professional experience as a student of political science – you can influence American foreign policy-makers, in one of two ways: when you can become a force and they think you can bring down the regime in power or when the regime in power start to work against their interest like Mugabe of Zimbabwe. Therefore, to win the heart of the American leaders, we should become a force – a force that can speak to the Americans and the Ethiopian dictators. I think, we can do that if we can put aside our petty differences and invest in a real way to build organizations with committed leadership that make a difference. Know that the liberation of our people is in our own hands and while we seek the support of the Americans – we should do our homework as I earlier said, both God and the Americans help those who help themselves.

The Way Forward

Some say the Oromos came to present day Ethiopia in the 16th century while others take back this to the 10th century. Whatever that meant, beyond the shadow of doubt,Oromos constitute the largest nation in Ethiopia and/or the Horn of Africa. That bestows centrality on Oromos in the remaking of Ethiopia along democratic lines. Look for a moment at the history, geography and demography of Ethiopia. If the heart of Ethiopia is out with the Oromos, imagine what would happen to the remaining pieces. In all probability, the country may turn to a house of mad people where everybody throws stones against the other. If the turn to a mad house, because of their resources and their geography, in the end Oromos may be a net-loser.

I think, Oromos have to make a historic choice between assuming a central position in the remaking of Ethiopia or taking all the peoples of that country down together to the unknown world. To be sure, a minority regime cannot sponsor a democratic transformation, except in the South African way. Without claiming a copy right that is why I always say, Oromos should assume their rightful place of the remaking of Ethiopia in the interest of all the peoples of Ethiopia by ensuring a democratic transition that is fair to us and to our neighbors. I believe this is the best strategy to move forward in the re-writing of new history for our common home.

I have argued all along that the best strategy for the Oromos is to struggle for the taking-over of Menilek’s palace by championing democracy and sharing power based on one person-one vote. I still say Oromos should develop both the wisdom and capacity to end minority rule in Ethiopia. To do just that Oromos should able to create meaningful & strong democratic alliances with their neighbors based on trust and a fair game to both of us. If the country’s largest group is not ready to do that, who else is expected to do that can do that?.Oromos should not send fear to their neighbors, a very fact the minority regime has been always exploiting but security guarantees in a new democratic Ethiopia. These are the lessons we should learn from the Oromo protests, which moved millions of Oromos across the vast Oromia land while our neighbors are watching the drama from the side lines without showing any solidarity. Frankly speaking, many non-Oromo saw the Oromo protest as a threat, not as a liberator. This is a dilemma of our neighbors and yet another challenge of ours as we look into the future of our people’s struggle.

We should understand history, but should not be a prisoner of it. We should not forget our history, but not be its prisoners. We should operate dynamically in the fast changing dynamic world without losing ourselves in the game. We should embrace and work with those who want to work with us for a common goal while standing firm against those who aspire to give us the certificate to be Ethiopians. We should not allow the Oromo protest to be repressed by isolating it while the EPRDF regime is working day in and day out to mobilize our neighbors against us.

All of us should be ready to contribute our share by joining the call of history. There is an urgent need to resolve our own dilemma. I have been always arguing in terms of history, geography and demography Oromos are the best candidate to lead the democratization of Ethiopia. We should be aware of the fact that clashes of dreams and visions unless managed well can hurt all of us. In other words, Oromos should contribute to overcome the country’s political dead-end by making their contribution to overcome the clashes of dreams that has led to the political impasse for decades. Attracting our neighbors to a democratic game, i.e. a common middle road is a sine quanon for moving forwardthe country’s politics so as to save us from paying unnecessary cost.

At this historical juncture – we should be able to reassess our failures and successes to revitalize our movement by better strategizing our way of doing things. And as we fight for the freedom of our people, we should be able to use Oromos full potential with hope and confidence to engage our neighbors.

Lastly, let me say few things about OSA:

OSA is celebrating thirty years of its existence. I hope those who know it from birth to maturity can tell better the contours of its development, its ups and downs, i.e. give a better balance sheet. From a perspective of a distance onlooker, let me say the following: OSA has fought a thirty-year war in promoting Oromo nationalism with commitment and endurance in the world of academia. All of us should salute OSA for a good job done. We should encourage it, to take its work more aggressively with commitment and determination. Having said this, I want to raise some points regarding OSA based on my attendance of OSA meetings few times. First is time budgeting. Some programs are given much more time than others. I think, OSA time allocators should be serious in adhering to the original time. Time adjustments should be made if necessary with fairness. Secondly, some critical presentations are pushed to the end after many people are left or tired. I think, OSA would lose its central mission when real political issues that are critical to the survival of our nation arenot well covered or well attended. I understand OSA organizers do that to hold down people from leaving. I myself was not happy, for instance to make a speech in Chicago after the veterans of the Bale movement left or travailing several thousand kilometers to talk for few minutes at that after half of the meeting hall became empty. Thirdly circulation of OSA publications is limited, especially for the young readers at home. Even the universities in Oromia are not getting them. If not legally allowed, it can be done through some scholars. Lastly and more importantly, OSA should be able to find sponsors from Oromo communities and other organizations to enable the participation of more scholars from home as it is very important to create a better human link between the home-based intellectual community and those of you who are here.

Conclusion

Taking this opportunity I call upon all Oromo and Ethiopian political forces to unite and push the same democratic agenda.

I want to call upon the TPLF/EPRDF leaders to stop its repression and negotiate a fair democratic game with the genuine representatives of the various peoples of the country.

I also want to call upon the American government to stop supporting dictators who are terrorizing millions of their citizens in the name of fighting international terrorism.

Finally, let me conclude my presentation by repeating the immortal words of Kwame Nkrumah: Divided we fall, united we stand.

First Published on OPRIDE.COM

Open Letter regarding the carnage in Oromia and possible next steps

To:

  • Obbo Abbaa Duulaa Gammadaa, Speaker of the House of Representatives, FDRE.
  • Obbo Muktar Kedir, President of the National Regional State of Oromia.
  • Obbo Ibrahim Haji, Commissioner of Oromia Police.
  • All City Councils in charge of matters pertaining to Public Political meetings and Peaceful Demonstrations.

CC.

  • Dr Mulatu Teshome, President, FDRE.
  • Ato Hailemariam Desalegn, Prime Minister, FDRE; Chair of the Command Post currently governing Oromia.
  • General Samora Yunus, Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces, FDRE.
  • Ato Asefa Abiyu, Commissioner of the Federal Police.
  • Central & Executive Committee of EPRDF.
  • Central & Executive Committee of OPDO.

Subject: Open Letter regarding the carnage in Oromia and possible next steps

Dear Sirs,

It is to be recalled that the Oromo people have been expressing their total and complete discontent with the administration over the last eight months and a half. This expression has taken the form of peaceful protest (#Oromoprotests) forcing the government to rethink the Addis Ababa Master Plan, amend the Oromia Urban Development Proclamatio, reschedule the Ethiopian School leaving Exam and, more recently, to stop dumping waste in the Sandaafa area. Much to our disappointment and to the disappointment of the entire Oromo nation, this peaceful popular protest has been consistently met with overt violence from the Government’s security forces.

According to our estimates, over 6oo Oromos are killed. (It is to be noted that the Human Rights Watch had reported earlier that over 400 are murdered by government security officers arbitrarily. Even the regime has admitted that there were 173 killings and hundreds of incidents of injury to civilians, arbitrary arrests, and other forms of abuses, and yet there was no attempt on the part of the government to take political and legal responsibility for this.) Targeted killings have been going on even in the absence of any public demonstrations in Shashemene and the towns in the wider W Arsi district. The Government has so far not done its part to investigate the cause and bring the perpetrators to justice. Even as we write this letter today, the killing continues in Awaday. Few weeks ago, several arbitrary killing of children and other civilians was witnessed and burning of a building has also been observed while the local officials were watching the fire to the point of self-entertainment with the sight. Today, we have noticed the killing of protestors by snipers who targeted Oromo lives.

In the last eight months and a half, hundreds of peoples suffered wounds and other forms of bodily injury from shooting. Over 5000 Oromos were shot and injured by the Security Forces, mainly the Agazi. Tens of thousands have been victims of mass arrest and are suffering arbitrary detention and torture in prisons large and small in various parts of the country. Oromo leaders are detained and tortured as political prisoners. Hundreds are reported to be missing and are victims of forced disappearance. All this has been unaccounted for thus far as there was no independent commission of inquiry established to inquire into the matter. Nor has the government invited international investigators such as the UN’s Special Rapporteurs on Arbitrary Execution, Forced Disappearance, or the Committee of Experts.

The dispossession and displacement of Oromo farmers and residents including those in the suburbs of Addis Ababa) continues uninhibited so far. The civil administration of Oromia is still not restored in full. The Oromia National Regional State (ONRS) is still under the military rule that governs through a Task Force from a Command Post. Oromia is virtually under the rule of the Agazi.

The fundamental demands of Oromo people remain unaddressed. Discrimination is rife. Economic disempowerment, political marginalization, total loss of voice is patent.

Oromos are disproportionately represented in the statistics about the Ethiopian prison population. (It is reported that the prison population has risen from 86% to 95 % within the last nine months.) Oromo political leaders such as Bekele Gerba, Olbana Lelissa, Dejene Tafa, Addisu Bulala, and almost all of the OFC leadership are imprisoned for no legally justified reasons. They are subjected to abuses as political prisoners.

The state of basic social services is deteriorating from day to day. Health, road, and water services infrastructure have all collapsed to the point of crisis. There is virtually no semblance of governance in the region except the terrorizing of the civilian population through a heavy military presence across the region.

All these brutal killings, maimings, forced disappearances, and other forms of abuse were taken to be acts of a repressive dictatorial regime that is hateful of its peoples. Developments in recent days (especially those that transpired in the Amhara region) and the way the regime treated their demands presented a contrast that seemed to suggest to our people that these extraordinarily violent responses are reserved only for Oromos. In Oromia, when school children demonstrated unarmed and peacefully (to present their just demands for their rights), they were massacred in a torrent of bullets that rained on them from the Agazi Forces. Elsewhere, even people that are fully armed with guns stage a protest, present their demands, and come home safely. And that is as it should be. Few hours after the Gonder protest was peacefully concluded, the regime was conducting a campaign of sniper shooting in Awaday town (of East Hararghe Zone of Oromia) where 6 persons were killed and about 26 were shot and wounded.

This shows that the regime have different modes of treatment for different peoples of the country. It sends a message which indicates that Oromos, unlike others, are enemies to be eliminated at every opportunity. It also sends the message that there is a difference between the Amhara and Oromo parties (i.e. ANDM and OPDO, respectively, two of the four organizations which form the coalition of the EPRDF) operating in the respective regions. ANDM openly supports the protest in Amhara region while in contrast the OPDO in Oromia is nowhere to be seen around the people (except as informers and co-killers).

The media in Oromia is busy denouncing and demonizing the Oromo Protest whereas in other regions, the media publicly announces its support for the people’s demands.

Consequently, it has become clear even to casual observers that Oromo lives don’t matter in Ethiopia. In this regard, the regime has continued in the tradition of devaluing and undervaluing Oromo lives starting from the days of imperial conquest of the Oromo nation.

We believe that you are acutely aware that this condition is unsustainable. We believe that the only way forward is to arrest the people’s unnecessary suffering and bringing this crisis to a positive end. We believe that the continued perpetuation of misery, targeting the Oromo people as a people, is forcing them to reach for desperate measures that this government can’t eventually manage to control.

We, as concerned children of Oromia, are writing to you to make this last call for you to wake up to this fast changing phase of the Oromo Protest. If the government does not properly respond to the peaceful demands of the people for their rights in a just social order, the Oromo people will be obliged to start taking drastic measures that have serious repercussions both for the regime and for the country.

Our people are asking what brought about this apparently endless tragedy to them, including this recent different valuation of peoples and their rights.

The answer seems to be in the following:

  1. The Oromo people had so far chosen to conduct their protest peacefully.

Oromo political leaders, activists, and intellectuals have all been consistently advising against violence and encouraging people to avoid all forms of violence.

This was in line with the principle of primacy of peace and wellbeing (nagaaf nageenya) in the Oromo tradition and in their way of being in general.

This choice has been viewed as a sign of weakness and cowardice. The TPLF regime seems to have chosen to utilize the Oromo commitment to peace as an instrument of perpetuating its repressive politics.

  1. In the last nine months, our people have taken extraordinary care not to harm other people living among them, especially those who, being from Tigray, support, benefit from, and collude with the regime. This care seems to be mistaken for naiveté and weakness.

However, it should be clear to all that patience has its limits.

Anger and resentment is overflowing among our people. Before patience completely runs out, it has now become necessary for the regime to be given a last chance to change the course of its behaviour.

In order to ensure that the regime treats our people with the same respect it accords to other peoples of Ethiopia, it has become necessary to take the following measures:

  1. On Saturday, 6 August 2016, there will be a grand protest demonstration across the Oromia region including in Addis Ababa and Dire Dawa.

The Protest, like all other preceding protests, shall be completely peaceful.

Its demands include, but not limited to:

  1. STOP KILLING OROMOS;
  2. FREE ALL OROMO AND OTHER POLITICAL PRISONERS WITHOUT ANY PRECONDITION;
  3. END THE AGAZI RULE IN OROMIA;
  4. ALLOW OROMOS COMPLETE SELF-GOVERNANCE
  5. And other similar demands.
  6. There shall be no request for permit from the government. According to the constitution and the relevant law (Proclamation No 3/1991), people who seek to stage public political meetings and peaceful demonstrations have a mere duty of notification.

This letter shall have served as a letter of notice to the relevant State and Federal institutions. If Oromia’s and Federal Security Forces try to disrupt, subvert, or prevent the protest rallies or if they try to abuse people otherwise during and before the demonstrations, from that moment on, the Oromo Protest will immediately have entered a new phase with a new mission and strategy.

It shall start taking measures commensurate to the needs of the times. TPLF leaders and Oromo collaborators–and they alone–shall take full responsibility for any and all negative consequences.

Desperate times demand desperate measures. We call upon the regime to end our people’s sufferings immediately. We also call upon the Ethiopian people in general to pay attention to this notice, to bear witness, and to stand in solidarity with its Oromo brethren and sisters.

We call upon our people to understand the gravity of this situation and to stand together, in unison, with the usual resolve and determination, as they demand their just and God-given rights in their own land.

Kind Regards,

#Oromoprotests.

ODF Statement on continued people’s struggle in Ethiopia

Reiterating our unwavering support for non-violent resistance by the Oromo people and others in Ethiopia for human rights, freedom, and democracy we want to make one thing abundantly clear: No amount of violent suppression by the TPLF junta can longer hold the peoples of Ethiopia into submissions. Now the people of Gondar are joining their Oromo brothers and sisters, determined to end the TPLF junta’s marginalization, rises in their millions demanding legitimate rights, there can be no force that can derail it from its course towards certain victory.

The freedom bell that began ringing across Oromia in the last eight months is finally reaching the people of Gondar and we are delighted to welcome our Gondar brothers and sisters to the just struggle for ending the TPLF brutality against the peoples of Ethiopia. The status quo of the last 25 years is shattered and no longer tenable. All attempts by the ruling party to gain control of the volatile situation through single use of security and military means has come to no avail. As we welcome the people of Gondar to this fight, we call up on other Ethiopian regions to join-in to expedite the down fall of TPLF junta and free the peoples of Ethiopia. We are also sounding the alarm that if the current situation prolonged and the 25 plus years of TPLF having effectively marginalized Ethiopian communities and destroyed political opponents; imposed the political and economic dominance for their own, and illegal appropriation of land and wealth; having institutionalized corruption and damaged the legitimacy of state organs; Ethiopia risks sliding toward chaos with simmering societal discontents that will results in situations similar to Somalia and that of other failed state with possibilities of civil wars breaking out in our country that will further destabilize the entire region.

Hence, averting further national tragedy is incumbent on all stakeholders and the ODF Executive Committee, therefore, makes a pronged call to all Ethiopian political and civic organizations inside and outside of the country to unite and expedite the non-violence resistance in all corners of our country. Second, we reiterate our brotherly stand and unwavering support to the people of Gondar and we call on the movements leaders to coordinate our efforts to free the country from tyranny. Third, we call on the international community to stop financing the TPLF junta with military and security aids; the status quo of the last 25 years in which this junta single-handedly dictated the country’s future is unsustainable and we ask for your intervention and help convene an all-inclusive conference to prevent further bloodshed and the destabilization of the entire Horn of Africa region.

The liberation of all freedom seeking Ethiopians is inevitable and we caution all parties to take measures to escape being on the wrong side of history.

Freedom and Justice for All!
Oromo Democratic Front

 

Source:  Website

NO TO IMPUNITY!

By Tsegaye Ararssa)

That the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission is not an independent institution and that it is incapable of doing human rights monitoring has long been admitted by the regime itself. So, no report it presents is a result of an independent inquiry. No statement it makes is an impartial statement. What we heard yesterday is not even close to the admission of guilt on the part of the regime made by the Prime Minister and the Spokesperson earlier in the year.
We have yet to see its report, the methods it used, and the personnel it mobilized to conduct its investigation. We have yet to see whom they identified as these “other forces who sought to take advantage of the people”. We have yet to see how “these other forces” are implicated. We have yet to see a full description of who did what so that we can make them responsible. To blame indefinite (and invisible) forces for the people killed (over 500 now), for the people injured (in thousands), and for the people arbitrarily arrested (estimated to be over 50,000), for the destruction of property (through vandalizing and burning of university campuses), for the suspension and dismissal of Oromia’s civil administration unconstitutionally (without even a semblance of legality that could be seen if there were an emergency declaration or a “federal intervention”) is a farce of incredible proportion. And we reject that completely, and we say NO!

Referring to “these other forces” as the responsible bodies without clearly identifying them and without establishing the mode of their involvement is only deflecting responsibility from the regime that acted completely lawlessly (illegally and unconstitutionally) to take “merciless and definitive measures” on protestors and to subject the entire region to military rule. This is simply unacceptable. And we say NO to impunity!

The report claims that the federal army, special forces, federal police, and the entire intelligence personnel was unleashed on Oromia to kill, injure, arrest, and terrorize the people [totally in accordance with the order of the Prime Minister to take “merciless and definitive measures”] on the invitation of the region. However, it doesn’t even care to tell us when was it requested, how it was requested, and according to which rules of procedure (apart from that put in place for a legitimate Federal Intervention in the regions). This is completely illegal and unacceptable. We reject this, and mercilessly and conclusively say NO to that, too!
The report claims that the crisis was caused, among other things, by a misunderstanding of the Master Plan. This suggests that the Master Plan is an appropriate plan. This is utterly unacceptable. We say NO!

By issuing this statement by the EHRC, the regime is now suppressing and displacing the truth of the atrocities it perpetrated on innocent protestors.
We say NO to this suppression of the truth, our truth, just as we say NO to the repression of the protest, and the wider systematic oppression of the Oromo and other peoples of Ethiopia by a regime that has rendered itself not just undemocratic but utterly anti-democratic.
The modest road we suggested from the start remains to be the only road the regime has to take in order to restore peace (and survive this crisis as a regime).
We state it to them again:
1. Rescind the Master Plan unequivocally (both in Addis and in the adjacent Oromia Zones). Take a clear, public stance by issuing a Parliamentary Resolution against the Master Plan.

2. Stop the violence and remove the Army, the Special Force, the Federal Police, and the intelligence personnel from all civilian life in Oromia.

3. Release all the political prisoners arrested in relation to the protest, including political dissidents arbitrarily taken captive in the wake of the re-eruption of the protest.

4. Set up a genuinely independent commission with members and/or observers from international organizations to conduct a proper investigation to the crisis and to make efforts to establish responsibility (political, administrative, legal, and moral) for the harm caused in the process.

5. Take political responsibility as a government, apologize to the public officially (with a clear statement written and delivered in a proper forum fully transparently to the media), and take all appropriate measures to restore the dignity of the victims and pay reparations to the same.

6. Remove all officials who are at the forefront of political and administrative responsibilities, for by being implicated in the bloodbath that they caused in the course of the crisis, they have totally lost the moral legitimacy, the legal competence, and the public credibility to govern.

7. Ensure that those who did and caused the killings, injuries, rapes, tortures, and arbitrary arrests be held legally accountable (in accordance with the criminal law of the country) before an independent court of law. Allow a forensic determination of guilt and punishment in proportion to the degree of their participation. Fail to do this, the regime will be haunted by the possibility of being brought before international justice institutions (or at least they will face the inconvenience of having to defend themselves).

8. The Government in Oromia has lost all the credibility and all the legitimacy (which it never had anyway!) to govern the region. It is imperative that the Caffee Oromia dismiss itself and call for an election before the next parliamentary year (leaving the day to day administration of matters to a care taker government of the old cabinet).

9. Stop all acts of eviction of farmers from their land which, to most of them, is their only means of livelihood. Work towards a better (possessory) tenure security over the plots of land they now have. Stop all activities of land grab and consequent displacement of people everywhere (in Oromia and beyond) even in the name of “development.” Work towards a more legally entrenched, fair, just, and consultative mode of development planning where necessary expropriation is done with due, effective, and adequate compensation.

10. Ensure that the ‘Special Interest’ clause of the constitution is implemented urgently. In the determination of the content of the Special Interest, Oromia’s voice must be properly listened to as well as that of the city government of Addis Ababa. Start a comprehensive, inclusive, open, and genuinely participatory discussion with all the peoples of Ethiopia about where to place the federal Capital city. In an act of bona fide cooperation, the Oromia government should take steps towards suggesting another options and modes for relocating the capital city within or outside of Oromia (and its own contribution, as the largest State in the Federation, towards building the new capital–if this be the option).

These things are doable things. These things are easier things to do for the regime. Anything short of this will only provoke a more vehement and persistent resistance. To do anything less, or anything other than these modest suggestions, is an invitation for further crisis.

We will do everything at our disposal to resist this. We keep saying NO!
We keep saying NO to justification and rationalization of State terror.
We keep saying NO to all forms of impunity for the gross violation of human rights in Oromia and beyond.
We keep saying NO to all forms of eviction from land including through the Master Plan.

ODF Statement on the Current Crisis in Ethiopia_June 2016

The time to end TPLF quagmire and the time for all Ethiopians to join hands to chart a new future and direction is now!

While the TPLF/EPRDF junta are busy celebrating their looting, torturing, and the killings for the past 25 years, the struggle of the Oromo people and the righteous anger of other Ethiopian peoples against injustice, political repression, social marginalization, and economic exploitation has exploded into a flood of popular protests that have been engulfing Oromia now for more than six months. Simmering discontent elsewhere in Ethiopia is also causing tensions. Despite the brutality of TPLF/EPRDF forces, the protesters have remained resilient, resolved, and resourceful.

The massive defiance and victories registered by forcing the regime to cancel the national school leaving exam scheduled to take place this week while schools have been closed across Oromia for the past six months due to Oromo protests across Oromia have been unprecedented in the history of Ethiopia. Yet again, this regime learns no lesson and currently is attempting to reschedule the very exam rejected by the Oromo protesters merely a month later. The new date of the exam falls on 3-6th of July, which happens to be not only a religious holiday, the Eid-al-Fitr, but also an official one according to the law. This is another telling evidence of TPLF/EPRF regime’s total disregard of even the laws enacted by subscribing to the constitution tailor-made to reflect its political preferences and that of no one else.

While the regime unleashes all the tools of the state’s repressive apparatus against peaceful and unarmed civilians demanding their fundamental rights enshrined in the country’s constitution and turns Oromia into a bloodbath, it is disheartening for all peace loving Ethiopians to dwell on minor differences. The time to pool our resources together and for once and for all rid Ethiopia of the brutal TPLF junta that has been terrorizing the people of for over 25 years is now. The Oromo people at home in their millions are rallying together risking it all to put an end to the displacement, dispossession and eviction from ancestral farmlands. The other Ethiopians do not benefit anything by remaining silent. Ethiopia’s political groups cannot continue to bicker thereby squandering the opportunity to bring about change and thus expose our peoples to unimaginable agony.

Accordingly, we join our voices in support of the Oromo youth’s action of defiance in forcing the government to cancel the school leaving exam and we categorically condemn the regime’s attempt to reschedule the exam during religious holidays without due consideration of students to have enough preparatory time to review the materials even though the students missed out more than six months of class time. We unequivocally express our solidarity with our compatriots fighting for their rights with bravery and those brave souls that risked their life to leak the exam in public domain ahead of the unfairly scheduled exam to yet again punish those Oromo protesters.

We would also like to reassure all concerned that the Oromo have never harbored ill-will towards any society living in its environs and never shall. Consequently, we call on all Ethiopian political and civic groups to overcome the mentality of viewing the Oromo as the source of threat and to partner with us in this struggle for justice for all.

Until and unless this change of mind-set materializes, the TPLF/EPRDF junta will continue to terrorize our peoples and thus, we have no choice but to close ranks and sustain and intensify the current protests by redoubling our determination and willingness to bear sacrifices. We wholeheartedly express our solidarity with the protesters standing up to the heavily armed security forces and other machineries of repression. We solemnly declare our support by every means available to us.
We also call up on the regime to:

 Immediately halt the mass crackdown on peaceful students demanding their rights
 Immediately release all protesters currently held in detention centers,
 Give reasonable time for the students to prepare for the school leaving exam,
 Compensate the relatives of those whose life was cut short by the security forces.

We stand for a type of Ethiopian Unity based on equality and justice instead of the one drawing strictly on coercion that has endured to this day.

Freedom and Justice for all!!
Oromo Democratic Front

Source:OROMO DEMOCRATIC FRONT (ODF)