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.

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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.

Economic revolution? The chain is on the dog’s neck

By: Tullu Liban
Some people seem to be touched and thrilled by Lemma Megersa’s public tizzies. Indeed, Lemma talks Afan Oromo prettily and his verbose are quite attractive, though yet to be tested in action. Such glossy talks are not bad albeit the mix-up of OPDO’s pragmatic power limit and their confused world.

The fact speaks for itself, though. How come one expects economic or otherwise emancipation to come from an enslaved group? We don’t need any lecture on Oromo nationalism and economic marginalization from Lemma, for that matter. The level of Oromo self-consciousness is far way ahead than Lemma and co. would believe. We have had enough of them over years and no rhetoric can be a panacea for Oromo questions but action. The fact is that OPDO can bring neither economic nor political empowerment for the Oromo people given its obvious position in the power relations. They cannot because they are not made to do or be so. The very people who are caged in the nursery of TPLF; hived off from the people they are meant to represent, cannot liberate others before they do declare their own freedom. OPDOs (not the file and rank ones) are up in the line of politics so long they serve the interest of the masters who installed them. They are installed for a purpose. That purpose is to be an ensemble for TPLF interest in order that the latter could exploit resources of Oromia.

TPLF doesn’t want the Oromo people but their resources. Therefore, they don’t want to empower the people whom they are determined to loot indefinitely. They are not that naive to lose their grip over the resource they direly need. Thus, they don’t permit OPDOs to exercise a real power. If one believes OPDODs are exercising a real power in the Oromia leadership or in the fake federalism, one is simply foolish or far away from the tricks of Tigrian politics.
Lemma is not in the service of the Oromo people because he is not elected by free will of the people. He is an assignee of TPLF and his cabinet too. Where is the point then, that one hopes Lemma will bring about economic revolution for the Oromo people?
Lemma is instructed to deliberately speak up loudly picking up the language of honest Oromo elites: nationalism, marginalization, segregation, dehumanization etc. Yes, it seems the plan is hitting the target, it caught public attention for a moment; but couldn’t cool down public temper as it was supposed to.
TPLF emboldened Lemma Megerssa and Beker Shale to spark a dialogue to measure the thermometer of Oromo politics. In a way, TPLF will buy time, respire for a while, work out how to quell the next chapter of inevitable Oromo fight that bothers them day and night.
Those who are hoping OPDOs will change the powerline in Ethiopia’s politics are misleading themselves. OPDO is a handmade “speaking tool”. When the creators, the TPLF masters want them to speak, OPDOs speak nicely and loudly. When they are told to act, they will perform exceedingly. Don’t forget, the chain is on their neck, yet. To loosen a chain on the neck of one’s dog or tighten, fasten it, is not decided by the dog itself but by the owner. That is the situation in which the OPDO surrogates find themselves. If any change happens, in answering Oromo questions, it happens because of the irresistible smack TPLF gangs sustained because of the nonstop Oromo struggle.
Even amid the shocks it has experienced, TPLF still aspires to survive in the years to come. In 2020, TPLF will conduct another round of sham elections in Ethiopia. In the next elections, they want to cling to power by hook or crook. They deploy different tactics to achieve that dream. One of the tactics is addressing some of the Oromo questions. They may promote Afan Oromo as the second federal language, at least theoretically. They may enact a law on Oromia-Finfinnee relations, at least on paper. They may delegate regions to administer certain portions of the economy (with strict control of the center). All these cosmetic reforms will happen to legitimize the next survival of TPLF as a central powerhouse of the empire. As we can see preparations are underway in the name of political negotiation where Oromia is not represented. There will be some individuals in the name of opposition parties in the next parliament of TPLF (Tolessa Tesfaye, Lidetu Ayalew and Ayele Chamisso in mind) . And yet, the essence of the real power relations will remain under the full control of TPLF.
The whole effort of TPLF is now to finalize a groundwork to get a “pass grade” for the 2020 elections. Then, they will prepare another strategy for the 7th, 8th, 9th and 10th rounds to realize the 50 year Tigrian rule dream.
The thing is that OPDO protagonists like Lemma Megerasa, are in the TPLF utmost service so that the former could buy time for power perpetuation. Lemma and his OPDO are agents of TPLF in Oromia as we know them since their creation from POWs.
One must ask Lemma when he broadly opens his mouth about Oromo marginalization where he has been hitherto. He has been an active player, a forefront striker in effecting the marginalization process. One would not have been surprised if Lemma was a newcomer to the OPDO circle. However, it wouldn’t make any sense to hear his ostentatious rhetoric he himself being one of the persons in the enemy service by heart. For heaven’s sake, how dare the thoughts of Oromo economic empowerment came through Lemma’s revelation as if he has not been part and parcel of the system that made the Oromo people sustain the pains? Okay fine, now say they came to their sense to realize the pains, how can Lemma and his comrades reverse politically designed marginalizations under the slave-master relationship with TPLF?
If politics is not a magical activity or a divine business, in this real world of humans, there will be no economic empowerment without political empowerment. If the chain on the neck of OPDO was not in the palms of TPLF, one would hope to see changes in different life aspects as far as Oromia is concerned. But the remote control is not in the palms of the dogs; the masters do hold that chain; will they loosen the grip? No! They may let the dogs relax temporarily, not permanently.
In sum, we are sure whatever reform TPLF conducts in the name of OPDO or if OPDO does something good to answer a portion of Oromo questions, they do it not because they wished to do it nor OPDO dared to demand it. If the OPDO stooges had that ability, they could have materialized many of Oromo demands long ago. The harder we hammer them, the tight we press them, the more our dreams are achieved. They are not granting us our rights. We are gabbing them through struggle. Whatever benefit comes in favor of Oromia, we welcome them because they are the result of Oromo struggle, not a gift from the enemy. They are achieved by struggle thanks to our martyrs who shed their blood selflessly for the noble cause.

TPLF cannot stop Oromo’s Struggle for Freedom, Social Justice and Rule of Law

If TPLF/EPRDF leaders think that they can silence the Oromo people from demanding justice, freedom, equality and rule of law by keeping Oromo political leaders & activists behind bars, they are fooling themselves.

They must know that imprisonments, extrajudicial killings and forced disappearances will never stop Oromo people’s struggle and it will undoubtedly continue until Oromos free themselves from systematic oppression, economic exploitation and marginalization.

Oromo people’s struggle for political, economic and cultural rights has been around for more than a century now. Whatever TPLF & others do, it will never go away until Oromo get what they deserve.

Free OFC Leaders and All Political Prisoners!

The TPLF led Ethiopian government has jailed almost all leaders of the Oromo Federalist congress (OFC), the largest Oromo political opposition party in Ethiopia. The OFC political leaders icluding Merera Gudian (PhD) (chairman) and Bekele Garba (deputy chairman) have been jailed not because they committed crimes, but because they worked to defend the interests (political, economical and cultural) of the Oromo people.

They have been jailed for they spoke against human rights violations, land grabs (eviction of Oromo framers from their land) and the minority rule. They have been jailed for they demanded freedom, justice, equality and democracy to prevail in Ethiopia. They have been jailed for they demanded equal share of power and wealth; for they called for free and fair elections to be held; for they campaigned to enable the Oromo people to get the place they deserve in Ethiopia.

In TPLF gulag, these brave souls are at times denied basic human rights that prisoners deserve-they are abused, tortured, denied access to medication when they are sick (mostly because of the ill treatments they receive at the hands of the jailers) and prevented from meeting their family and lawyers.

We demand the TPLF/EPRDF leaders to come to their real sense and release the leaders of the Oromo Federalist Congress and all other political prisoners if they really care about peace & stability. And they must do it now!

Image may contain: 4 people, text

#FreeBekeleGerba

#FreeMereraGudina

#FreeDejeneTafa
#FreeAddisuBulala

#FreeGurmessaAyana

#FreeOlbanaLelisa
#FreeAllOtherPoliticalPrisoners

THE OVERRIDING SINGULAR IMPLICATION of TPLF’s “State of Emergency” declaration = “legal” GENOCIDE AND ETHNIC-CLEANSING:

By: Ogessa Durii

–Nothing New —
Many, rightfully, assert that this declaration by the Ethiopian-regime [on October 9th, 2016] doesn’t change the circumstances on the ground, because the regime has already been acting for months,
de facto, with the full-power and to the full-effect that such constitution-waiving declaration confers.

— “Rising Ethiopia” dead —
This declaration confirms legally now that the notion of a democratic and developing State of Ethiopia is DEAD, by the admission of the regime itself.

–True meaning of the declared “State of Emergency” —
The real tragedy of this tactical pivot is probably now the commencement of a heinous campaign of genocide and ethnic cleansing by the regime’s security apparatus at levels and proportions never seen before. There is more than enough evidence already to fear that this is, however farcical it may appear, is a “legal” pretext or cover for mass killings of innocents at an unforeseen and unprecedented scale. There evidence is compelling, and in fact overwhelming, to accept that this is the scenario the rogue and psychopathic elements in the regime are capable of, and see as a way for them to deal with this catastrophe.

Of course, the world would continue to watch it on their screens. It is no guarantee that it would intervene in any meaningfully game-changing manner.

💥 Let us recall, again, that it took the well orchestrated massacre of over 480,000 people, and displacement of over 2.8 million that prompted the Western Powers to literally bring their full political, military and diplomatic weight to bear, in bringing to an end the genocide and create the current state of South Sudan.

💥 By 2008, the Congo-civil war and its aftermath had caused 5.4 million deaths, without any considerable international public awareness, leaving aside any form of meaningful intervention. Hence, dubbed the “world war” nobody knows about, except of course the multi-national companies that were digging up diamonds and many more in this probably most resource rich country in the continent.

💥 Remember the Rwandan genocide.

💥 Remember the Palestinian quagmire.

The protesting Oromo nation, and the other oppressed people of Ethiopia have only ONE AVENUE LEFT to them for freedom, and even survival, at this point: ARMED RESISTANCE within and from without, against the Ethiopian regime’s military apparatus.

–Current methods of struggle will not work —
❖ Snipers and sparse presence of security forces will be replaced by thousands of army in each city throughout the protesting regions.
❖ They will not shoot people on the streets, they shall burn residences, and they shall kill at levels unseen before, with no distinction of protesting or not-protesting as they have already commenced.
Remember, they have moved out Tigrean residents from these regions already, a possible act of quarantine, isolating the “problem.”
❖ Any sort of public movement can and will be completely halted through sheer overwhelming lethal power by the security forces; so no burning of regime institutions (if any left) or semblance of normalcy can even be thought of by the public.
❖The security apparatus has every weapon of destruction and carnage at its disposal with utter impunity and authorization for six months or more. Translation: until every perceived threat is lethally eliminated.

— Inescapable conclusion —
Killings and destruction is sure either way, but with growing lethal response through armed resistance by the people, there is a sure possibility of ending this carnage that would otherwise go on unabated. It will also guarantee the reality of freedom and democracy for the people. The current avenues of struggle can not withstand what this “State of Emergency” could unleash and is guaranteed to cause the slaughter of innocents in unimaginable proportions.

— Achievable goal —
Oromo nationals everywhere and other Ethiopians MUST mobilize all resources that they can muster to make the FINAL STAND!!! It is DO OR DIE!!!

Everything is fluid, the entire dynamic changes in response to inputs : The people’s, TPLF’s, International. Lethal/armed response IS THE ONLY INPUT at this point #OromoRevolution , #EthiopiaRevolution has control over, in order to steer the movement in its favor and towards its stated goals.

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.

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

PROSPECTS FOR OROMO STRUGGLE UNDER THE PREVAILING SITUATION OF UNION OROMIA: By DAWUD IBSAA:

Photo: Dawud Ibsa, Chairman, Oromo Liberation Front (OLF)

Introduction

Please allow me to present to you warm greetings from OLF leaders, members and supporters to the participants of this conference. It is a great honor and pleasure for me and our leadership team to be in your midst to jointly explore the challenges and prospects for a peaceful resolution of the conflicts ravaging the Horn of Africa region. On behalf of all the suffering people of the Horn, Oromo and non-Oromo alike, I sincerely thank the Chr. Mechelsen Institute, particularly Dr. Pausewang, for successfully organizing this very timely, pertinent and exploratory conference on Conflict resolution in the Horn in general and in union Oromia and Oromo region in particular. It is a new testament to the deep concern of your institute, your government and your great country for the well-being of the voiceless in the world.

Allow me also to thank Ambassador Shinn, Prof. Clapham, Dr. Pausewang, Lovise and Dr. Tronvoll for a scholarly assessment of the situation on the ground and for sharing it with us openly. Let me assure you, our organization takes your recommendations seriously as it critically rethinks and readjusts itself to better face new challenges and vigorously exploit new opportunities. We hope this will be the beginning, not the end, of a long journey towards making Oromia and by extension the Horn a more democratic, peaceful and stable region.

Having said this, please allow me to focus on the obstacles and prospects for a peaceful resolution of the mayhem in the Horn. In order to do that, I have to make these assumptions:

• You are all aware of the history of the formation of contemporary Oromia;
• The impact of the conquest on the Oromo and other people in the South;
• Despite the many upheavals and so called transformations, Oromia has yet to shed its imperial nature where the minority dominates the majority by sheer force of arms and crucial support from outside;
• And that the current conflict is a result of a determined minority trying to cling to power by all means and the attempt of the subjugated nations to free themselves from domination, subjugation, repression, marginalization and exploitation.

At every historical juncture Oromos have acted in good will to bridge this gap. Many Oromos had served Oromia with distinction. The collaboration of famous Oromo generals like Gobana with Minilek, the exemplary leadership of Iyyasu, however short-lived, the statesmanship of Habtegiorgis, the decisive support extended to H/Silassie against the Italians by heroes like Ababa Aragay, the guidance given to Mengistu by theoreticians like Haile Fida and finally the cooperation given to Meles by the OPDO, and even OLF, albeit briefly, all ended in frustration. Oromos have also attempted to peacefully improve their lot by forming the first official Oromo NGO, the legendary Macca & Tulama Association, which was of course open to non Oromos reflecting the goodwill and openness of Oromos, but it too did not fare any better.

After assimilation, cooperation and entreaties for a peaceful redress of their grievances failed, it was only natural for the Oromo to ask, “What is left to be done?” Although an independent militant organization was the answer, in no time did the Oromo close the door to a peaceful political alternative. When Mengistu assumed power and temporarily opened the field for political agitation the OLF helped form a multi-national political organization called the Oromian Oppressed Peoples’ Revolutionary Struggle (OCHIHAT) by bringing activists from all nationalities to strive for a peaceful political transformation of the Oromian state. However, when the Dergue reneged on its earlier promises, OLF had to go back to the field. Continuing the policy of working with others whenever possible, it took initiatives to build alliance with other forces to topple the Dergue and subsequently joined the Transitional arrangement in 1991/92 with a positive spirit. This is evidence that OLF has always been and remains to be open to alternatives for cooperation. OLF has never been and shall never be shy from embracing a more comprehensive agenda that does not compromise on the national aspirations of the Oromo people.

Although the price paid by OLF for this experiment is heavy, it did not make us give up on the search for a just peace nor dampen our desire for negotiation. We continued our exploration for just peace after the abortion of the Transitional arrangement. From the Paris conference, the different bilateral and multilateral arrangements to peacefully negotiate all outstanding issues down to the many attempts by the Americans, Germans, and the Norwegians attests to our ceaseless search for just peace. Since the war is being fought on our soil and financed with our own resources our resolve for peaceful resolution of conflicts is not a tactical but rather a strategic one. We cannot afford to sacrifice our youth as we need each and every one of them alive to grow our country, fight poverty and achieve a better standard of living. We understand that whereas we have everything to gain from peace, we have plenty to loose from continuation of violence imposed on us. However, while being relentless in our search for just peace, we shall never compromise nor bargain, in the name of an empty promise for peace, on the fundamental interests and rights of the Oromo people for which thousands of Oromos have sacrificed.

OLF has always been advocating for a just peace of the brave. That is why we proposed a bold agenda for peace in 2000 only to be frustrated by lack of response from the regime. That is why we took initiatives to bring several opposition parties together to form an alternative political force. That is why we went even further by issuing a joint statement with them indicating our desire for voluntary and democratic unity based on the freely expressed will of all peoples.

The Objectives and Obstacles of the Struggle

Contrary to the disinformation and propaganda by the regime, the main objective of the Oromo struggle is not revenge for past crimes or retribution for present transgressions but rather to change the victor-victim relationship between the conqueror and the conquered and build a brand new polity on a new paradigm based on the mutual consent of the peoples concerned. This will create harmony and open the way to build a democratic society that will work for the well-being of all the peoples. As we have indicated before, given a willing partner, I assure you we are ready to travel extra miles to rest this conflict causing misery for millions.

The obstacles to achieving peace are two-fold. First, the regime, being a minority pays only lip service to democracy- not wanting to lose the absolute advantage it currently enjoys. Second, Abyssinians lack a culture that tolerates differences and nourishes democracy. Every power transfer has been through violence. The winner takes all; compromise is seen as weakness. That is what makes the automatic resort to violence and political machinations possible.

The regime has perfected its oppressive machinery. Its propaganda campaign has escalated to the extent of suppressing any movement, whether political or non political, inside the country and branding those outside as terrorists. Nevertheless whenever one venue is closed the subjugated people resort to the next available means and the machinery follows suit- thus perpetuating the vicious cycle, the outcome of which is abject poverty, endless war, disease, famine, repression manifested by thousands of political prisoners and the forced exodus of skilled manpower, polarization of inter-communal relations, isolation of the government from the people, and interstate conflicts. The Oromo people carry the brunt of this burden. According to objective reports from independent Human Rights organizations and neutral observers, the atrocities committed against the Oromo nation rise to a level of genocide.

The simmering Oromo-Ethiopia conflict will not affect only Oromia, but the whole region of the Horn of Africa. Owing to the proximity of our region to the troubled Middle East and the religious composition of the peoples, the rise of religious extremism is a real threat. Thus the search for just peace needs to be aggressively pursued as whatever happens in Oromia has a spillover effect on the Horn countries and vice-versa.

Oromo region shares boundary, traditions and religion with almost all the regions in Oromia. It is at the center, it is the most populous and the largest in land mass and resources. Oromo region manifests all the diversity of Oromia. Thus, whatever takes place in Oromo region affects all of Oromia. It is the only society where Islam, Christianity and Waaqeffanna harmoniously flourished side by side for centuries and there are no signs of religious extremism so far. OLF’s adherence to a strictly secular policy contributes greatly to curb the mushrooming of religious fundamentalism. The OLF sees the solution to the Oromo question from the perspective that the aspiration of every popular struggle is the political, economic, and social well-being of its constituents. We believe all people benefit from just peace and a genuinely democratic arrangement. We therefore believe that prospects for Oromo freedom lies in the freedom of all the peoples in the area and the establishment of a truly democratic institutional and legal framework premised on the freely expressed will of all the peoples in Oromia.

This can only be based on the mutual recognition and acceptance of the principle of self-determination of peoples where all genuine representatives of these peoples come together and agree on a basic constitutional charter that will guide the way to commonly agreed democratic governance. This should include recognition of the right to form ones own government. If everyone is assured one’s appropriate share and a just, equitable and democratic system is devised we don’t see any basis for a deadly conflict that we are currently observing in Oromia and throughout the region. What the concerned peoples in the region desperately need and where friends of the region could help is thus in facilitating such a broad-based and serious dialogue.

We in the OLF believe that there should be a guarantee that all peoples will have the right to self administration within their own demarcated and sovereign area to develop their language, preserve their culture, manage their economic resources and better their lives. Human Rights, Rule of Law, separation of state power, multi-party democracy with free and fair election, free enterprise, sanctity of private property, the rights of national minorities, religious freedom and all relevant UN and international conventions will provide the basis for such a charter.

The Oromo people has been waging a continuous struggle to achieve the above objective for the last three decades. The struggle went through many ups and downs overcoming many obstacles. When this struggle started, the consciousness of the Oromo people was at its infancy. It took immense sacrifices to cultivate Oromummaa (Oromo nationalism) and rally Oromos for this just struggle of national liberation. Today Oromummaa has been widely and firmly established and Oromo consciousness has reached an irreversible stage. Today OLF is not just a front but a vanguard of a growing mass movement. The struggle has galvanized Oromos of all walks of life. What OLF started with a few dedicated members is inspiring and rallying millions of Oromos in Oromo region and around the world. We take pride in that all Oromos have come to know that they have one aspiration and goal- national self-determination. Despite some of our shortcomings that is what makes us optimistic about the future of our struggle and our beloved organization.

The TPLF Regime

Eventhough the Meles group has an upper hand, the division that surfaced within the top leadership of TPLF in 2001 has not come to an end. Credible intelligence reports from inside the Defense Council shows a new crack among the high ranking officers over how to share state power, the question of promotion, how to dole out military ranks, the disposition of Badme and access to sea port. This disagreement has gone down to various ranks in the army and taken the form of ANDM vs. TPLF or Amhara vs. Tigrai. If this continues, as we believe it would, the power structure in Oromia is headed for another internal implosion. Sadly, the change may not lead to a better understanding of the main problem, lack of democracy and domination of majority by the minority, for its peaceful resolution. On the contrary it may lead to reversing the positive gains made thus far and lead to more agony, turmoil and unnecessary bloodshed.

The erosion of mass support for OPRDF is driving local officials to rely more on force than on the rule of law. Desperation is leading them to take heinous actions. The massacre in Gambella, the killing of innocent Oromos in Watar, Bale, Jimma and Ilu Abbabor, the gunning down of peaceful demonstrators in Awasa, Shakka-mazengir, and Dirre Dhawa are manifestations of this desperation. A good recent example is what happened in Tajjo-Walal, western Oromia, where a hysterical TPLF cadre opened fire on a group of Oromo peasants killing four in cold blood.

TPLF’s track record on goodwill negotiation leaves much to be desired. We in the OLF have plenty of disappointing experiences from the Transitional period and afterwards. A good latest example is the border ruling by the Border Commission at The Hague. In Algiers, Oromia and Eritrea concluded a peace agreement in the presence of representatives of governments, the UN, EU and AU, to stop hostility and abide by the court’s ruling that would be final and binding. This did not prevent TPLF from rejecting the final ruling. This unreliable nature of the TPLF/OPRDF and its political culture of uncompromising intransigence is a major obstacle for peace.

The OPRDF is gearing up to “elect” itself to office once again in 2005. We sincerely believe this upcoming “election” won’t be different from the previous ones in significant aspects. The peaceful conditions necessary for a free and fair election do not exist. The Election Commission remains entirely packed with TPLF protégées. Without significant reform of the electoral laws, members of the OPRDF and its satellite organizations would compete among themselves and declare themselves winners as they have done in the past. Despite the lofty promise by Meles, TPLF is hesitant to let independents or opposition organizations freely contest and win seats in the parliament. Even if TPLF affords some opposition parties nominal participation, the latter are not in a position to seriously challenge the OPRDF that controls the economy, the bureaucracy, mass media, security, army and police. Hence the prospects for transforming the political system through the ballot box look as dim as when we were forced to abandon it in 1992.

The Situation in the Horn of Africa

Two opposing trends are being observed: peace making and escalation of conflict. The more than two decades old conflict between North and South Sudan, that consumed more than two million lives and devastated countless properties, is coming to an end. The peace agreement signed between SPLA and the Sudanese government, if it succeeds as hoped, will be a breakthrough to bring peace from round table rather than from the barrel of the gun. While wars have victors and losers, everyone wins in peace. Contrary to this positive development, the carnage engulfing Darfur risks to plunge Sudan and the Horn into further chaos.

The tension on the Oromia-Eritrean border is not abating and could erupt into war at any time. The situation in Gambella is far from settled. Popular discontent against the regime are on the rise. Recent killings in Dirre Dhawa and the restlessness within the Oromian Defense Council demonstrate the volatility in Oromia. Although the situation is favorable to bring peace to Somalia, Oromia is doing everything to sabotage and foil the on-going peace process.

The Global Situation

The current global situation is one of turbulence. During the cold war, the global situation was clearly defined. There were known camps to which governments and organizations adjusted their orientation. The New World Order has made sovereignty and territorial integrity less absolute. We saw nations determining their affair and forming new states. The right (to) of self-determination, which used to apply only to countries under colonial rule, is now recognized as a universal right of all nations and peoples. Consequently the map of the world is being redrawn.

On the contrary, with the formation of unions like the EU state sovereignty has become more symbolic than real. Countries joining such Unions voluntarily sign treaties that undermine their sovereignty to avail their people of economic, social and economic benefits from a larger pie. We are encouraged by both trends. The increased recognition of the right of nations to selfdetermination gives us hope that if our genuine appeal for peace is rejected and met with violence rather than being reciprocated, as has happened many times in the past, we have the right and the will to decide our fate. The trend towards cooperation is also encouraging to us because it opens new doors and creates more opportunities for our people to work with others to build a more prosperous, harmonious, stable and peaceful region.

Conclusion

The conditions on the ground tell us that there is no easy walk to Oromo freedom. The situation is complex, complicated and rife with uncertainties. TPLF has chosen to resort to all means of suppression to stay in power instead of working for long-term peace and prosperity. It has declared rich and educated Oromos to be enemies of its Revolutionary Democracy. Unfortunately it has also managed to muster enough international support for this unjust and destructive endeavor. It has Oromia’s human and material resource at its disposal. It has exacerbated the hitherto existing contradictions pushing Oromia and the region to further chaos.
The Oromo have been continuously pushed out of the system and marginalized through systematic denial of access to resources and opportunities. We are afraid that the rising tide of Oromummaa, the involvement of all sectors in the struggle, the denial of all venues to air their grievances and seek their aspirations peacefully, and the effort to categorize even the legitimate quest for self-determination as terrorism, may eventually push the Oromo to desperate actions.

As we have tried to indicate on several occasions, armed struggle has never been the choice of our esteemed organization. OLF has no desire whatsoever to waste its precious resources, the lives of our youth, in fighting. It is engaged in armed struggle merely because all other venues to address Oromo grievances and seek their aspirations have been denied. On the contrary it is the regime that is systematically using its monopoly on violence to quell the Oromo people’s legitimate quest for freedom and justice. OLF is ready to engage the regime in a peaceful dialogue and enter into a process that would lead to retiring violence as a political means. Unfortunately, it takes three to make a just peace- the courage, foresight and goodwill of the parties in conflict as well as crucial support from neutral third parties with a clear commitment to take appropriate action when one side reneges on implementing its part of the bargain.

In addition to the desire to launch a meaningful dialogue with the TPLF/OPRDF regime, a close cooperation and coordination with the struggle of other peoples and parties interested in justice, sustainable peace and prosperity in the area is vital. Engaging Oromian opposition organizations to form alliances of various forms is another agenda that OLF is committed to continue to work on. We cannot afford to view Oromo region as an island. Our freedom requires us to work relentlessly to build a healthy and working relationship with all the peoples in Oromia and come up with a more democratic, representative and viable alternative to the incumbent regime.

Eventually all parties concerned have to come together on a round table and jointly chart the future of Oromia. A strong and committed international input is a sine qua non to kick-start this process and ensure its success. If the global community takes its responsibility seriously and backs its commitment by real action, OLF is ready to do its part in the search for just peace. Should this fail, the situation will further deteriorate and descend into lawlessness and a breakdown of central authority. OLF has an immense desire to avert this impending chaos and resolve the underlying reasons for this conflict through a peaceful political means. It has demonstrated this will publicly, unambiguously and repeatedly.

Let me remind the distinguished international scholars as well as honored participants of this conference that the miraculous transformation in South Africa was not solely the genius of ANC nor Mandela; it also required a courageous decision by Deklerk. We do not believe Meles will follow this noble example but peace is so precious for our people that we are not going to leave the issue of war and peace to the whim of one person or a minority party. With your help OLF is prepared to take a new peace offensive. However, for this noble endeavor to bear fruit, interested parties need to pursue a two-pronged strategy. While putting real pressure on the regime to seek peaceful resolution of the Oromo-Ethiopia conflict, they need to support and empower the weak so that the powerful can no longer afford to dismiss it as mere nuisance. Unless the present power asymmetry is changed, the TPLF has no incentive to seek peace.