Ethiopia: The Charade of Democracy, Rule of Law, and Justice in the Oromo Nation In Ethiopia
The OPDO is primarily accountable for the human misery against the Oromo Nation
When the current Ethiopian government seized power in 1991, the suffering of nations and nationalities that had happened for over a century in Ethiopia hoped for its end, and freedom, justice, and equality under genuine democracy- as promised and put on paper by the Transitional Government of Ethiopia (TGE)- would prevail.
The TGE’s “Transitional Period Chapter of Ethiopia, 1991” was a period of hopefulness, the beginning of a democratic and accountable system in which the people would be empowered and able to hold their leaders to account. The Transitional Period Chapter allowed all nations and nationalities have equal rights and be allowed to send their political organizations to take part in the transitional government’s parliament.
However, following the broad and multi dimensional promises declared in the Transitional Period Chapter, hopes of progressing along a reformist democratic path appear to be slipping back and promises have receded.
Members and supporters of political organizations assumed in the TGE including members and supporters of Oromo political organizations have been taken to prisons, killed, abducted and human rights violations have become rampant all over Oromia under the so called “Peaceful and Democratic Transitional Government of Ethiopia” a new democratic system of Ethiopia.
At the beginning of 1992, genuine Oromo political organizations which had been part of the formation of the so-called Peaceful and Transitional Government of Ethiopia (TGE) have been forced to leave the TGE without preconditions. As the genuine Oromo political organizations left the TGE, their members and supporters have been targeted and many have been killed, abducted, and forcefully disappeared and other thousands have been arrested by TPLF militias using the surrogate organization OPDO as a finger pointing to their fellow Oromos.
The Tigray People Liberation Front (TPLF) formed the surrogate Oromo Organization in 1991 when they realized that the military government was failing to use them to penetrate into Oromia (south) from their homeland Tigray (North). The OPDO was created and programmed to serve its master (TPLF) by a remote operation. Over time, the TPLF leaders have strengthened their hold on power, entrenched themselves and built up enough confidence in walk freely into the invaded nations and nationalities’ territories. In doing this, the TPLF showed to the world community that peace and justice had been secured in all corners of the country. Western states, including the UK & US governments who were the leading supporters of the TPLF, backed it to silence citizens who demanded peace and equality in the country.
The TPLF led TGE have been able to play on Western funding governments and organizations’ security concerns in the Horn of Africa, especially as the civil war in the neighboring country Somalia became a threat to the security of the Horn of Africa Region.
After The US Embassies bombing on August 7, 1998 in Nairobi, Kenya and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, ( make it “ US Embassy’s” in the link) and the September 11, 2001, Terrorist attack on the New York World Trade Center Towers, the “War on Terror” and fear of instability became greater drivers of Western policy than encouraging the rule of law and democratic freedoms around the Horn. The EPRDF government claimed that it is the strongest military force in the region and continued, as a result, to garner substantial budgetary and military support especially from the US government
The financial aid the EPRDF collected from the Western states, including big financial support from the US government, enabled it to entrench power at home to dehumanize its citizens who tried to exercise their constitutional rights of assembly, free speech, and peaceful protests. The Oromo, the largest nation in Ethiopia who could not detach itself from subjugation by its northern neighbor rulers for over 1.5 centuries, again became victims under the EPRDF regime.
As history repeated itself, the TPLF came to Oromia under the cover of the surrogate Oromo organization, the OPDO. This surrogate group, most of whose members were non-Oromos, opened the door to the TPLF militias who have killed thousands, abducted many, forcefully kidnapped and arrested millions of Oromos in the past twenty plus years.
The OPDO helped the TPLF not only to incarcerate Oromo nationalists, but also collaborated with the invaders in killing, abducting, and forcefully disappearing thousand of thousands of Oromos who demanded democracy and self-determination in the past twenty-six years, demands that turned into the Oromo social movement of 2015-2016. The Oromo nation’s social movement was the continuation of the Oromo youth revolt against subjugation (Qabsoo Didda Gabrummaa) was created in 2005.
The Oromo student movement against the regime was officially started in 2005 in Ambo town, West Shewa, in November 09, 2005 by students of the Ambo High School who staged a peaceful demonstration against inequality and injustice in Oromia. At least five students were reported killed, including students Jagama Badhane and Kabbada Badhassa, and a younger female student, and the police killed at least two more) at a protest rally in response to Jagama’s death.
The struggle of Oromo youth spread to all high schools, colleges and universities in Oromia and Oromo students expressed their grievances in different schools in different days with peaceful demonstrations, demanding non-discrimination at school, and the rights of free speech and assembly.
Since the Oromo youth revolt against subjugation was officially started, until the great Oromo social movement broke out in 2015, several high school, college and university Oromo students have been killed, incarcerated, and forcefully disappeared.
The inspiring news from Ginch town, the small town in the south-west Showa zone, and its courageous action and struggle for real democracy and respect for the rule of law and human rights attracted the attention of million Oromos to continue with their demands despite the fact that several students were killed during the students’ peaceful protest in 2014 all over Oromia Regional State schools and universities.
The Oromo nation’s peaceful demonstration started in 2015 and spread all over Oromia and received the attention of the world community and was reported widely. During the continued demonstration in Oromia between November 2015-Octber 2016, over 2000 Oromos have been killed, hundreds of thousands have been incarcerated and other thousands have been forcefully disappeared in different places at different times,.
The protests continued vigorously until the October 2, 2016 tragedy in which over 700 innocent Oromos in one day were massacred by the TPLF killing squads at the Oromo Irrecha festival /Oromo Thanksgiving day celebration. The Federal government of Ethiopia had demonstrated its cruelty against the Oromo nation by shooting into the crowds. The inhuman and terrorist acts of the government escalated the tension between the government and the protesting Oromos, government and government-linked properties were destroyed, and around 600 more Oromos were killed and others were taken to prisons including to military camps.
The government of Ethiopia was forced to declare a state of emergency to silence the Oromos’ anger; on October 8, 2016, a state of emergency was declared for six months.The six month state of emergency was used for more killings, imprisonments, raping and forceful abductions of Oromos from their homes or villages.
For example, on November 6, 2016 at 5:00 am, three brothers- Marabu Jamalo, Abdissa Jamalo and Tola Jamalo- were killed in cold blood by the TPLF killing squad Agazi force in their home in Eastern Arsi Zone in Shirka district. Their father Mr. Jamalo Hussein said “my children have been killed by the fascist government killing squad, Agazi, not because they stole or did anything wrong, but only because they are Oromos”.
Hailu Ephrem , a sixteen- year old boy and Ibsa Runde, a seventeen year old boy were killed while playing in their area.They have been killed for no apparent reason- except perhaps that the psychopathic killing machines called Agazi have to kill Oromos to satisfy their masters’ orders. The mother of Hailu Ephrem, Mrs Tadelu Tamama, a mother from Dembidolo, Welega (Oromia region of Ethiopia) told VOA Afaan Oromo service radio “After the soldiers shot and killed my son in front of me “They told me to sit down on my dead son’s body”.
To continue with its crimes against humanity, the Ethiopian government extended the state of emergency for more four months until August 2017.
Due to this multi-phase reality of institutionalized violence and impunity in Ethiopia, the numbers of Oromos fleeing their homeland, (at least 100,000 per year) and trying to cross from neighboring countries into Europe are increasing from year to year. This has resulted in many drowning deaths in the Mediterranean and Gulf of Aden repeatedly.
Perpetuating Injustice Against the Oromo nation Under the Guise of Democracy
The Oromo People Democratic Organization (OPDO) is primarily accountable for the human miseries in Oromia in the past quarter century
As history repeats itself behind the multi-generational reality of institutionalized acts of repression, killings, discrimination, and evictions from livelihoods committed against the Oromo nation, Oromo individuals and groups were/are the major role players collaborating with the invaders.
These Oromo groups who were created by non-Oromo political organization to collaborate with them are powerless and used simply as an instrument to harass supporters and members of independent political organizations, and nationals in Oromo community. The OPDO members repeatedly claim they are representing their people in one or another.
OPDO, the surrogate of the TPLF, claimed that it represented the Oromo nation from its first day of creation as a part of a multinational political organization, the Ethiopian People Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF). However, in the past twenty-six years of federalism, the Oromo people have witnessed when the OPDO served the TPLF, acts of repression, torture and crime against the Oromo nationalists followed. In Oromia, the OPDO collaborated with TPLF securities to spy on the people.
The Federalist system in Ethiopia is a nominal designed system to influence the world community that Ethiopia is moving towards democracy and rule of law.
Both the Ethiopian Constitution of 1995 article 8 (1) and the Constitution of the Regional State of Oromia 1995 article 8 (a) declared simultaneously; “All sovereign power resides in the Nations, Nationalities and Peoples of Ethiopia”,.and “sovereign power in the Regional State of Oromia resides in the people of Oromo Nation”
As the nations and nationalities in Ethiopia know, the nations and nationalities’ constitutional rights which have been enshirined in Federal and Regional States Constitutions were only meant for the political consumption for the Tigrian People Liberation Front (TPLF). In the past twenty- six years, all regional government and different department offices, including the regional administration head offices, have been controlled by the TPLF direct assigned members.
The OPDO, who are loudly voicing the sovereignty of their government under the guise of democracy, could not save the lives of thousands of Oromo from killings, abductions and forceful disappearances over the past twenty- six years.The domination of the TPLF in Oromia Regional state and their committing crimes against humanity in the Oromo nation in the past twenty six years could not make OPDO free from the atrocities committed in Oromia. The OPDO authorities have been collaborating with the TPLF security agents to assassinate Oromo nationalists, to dismantle Oromo independent political organizations, to disable Oromo independent institutions,and etc. OPDO officials from top to bottom in the past and present, Oromia members of parliament in the past and present are all primarily accountable for those who have been killed, disappeared, tortured, whose lands have been taken and whose families have been scattered – for all the miseries impacts the Oromo people have faced and are still facing.