The Day “Revolt Against Subjugation” was Lit in Oromia
By Daandii Qajeelaa –
Sadaasa 9: It is the day Oromo nationalists in Oromia and around the globe commemorate the popular student uprising known as Fincila Diddaa Gabrummaa (meaning “Revolt Against Subjugation”) that suddenly broke out on November 09, 2005 following the failed Ethiopian election of 2005 in which the Oromo was denied any meaningful representation. The popular revolt started on November 09, 2005 following a call by the OLF to Oromo students and entire Oromo people to peacefully oppose the government and bring to the forefront the demands of democracy, justice, and most importantly, the realization of the right of the Oromo people to self-determination. Below are the chronology of the events related to the 2005 “Revolt Against Subjugation” that begun with a brutal killing of high school unarmed students in Ambo High School, Western Shoa zone, Ambo town.
November 09, 2005. Students of Ambo High school staged a peaceful demonstration. At least five students were reported kille , including students Jagama Badhane and Kabbada Badhassa and a younger female student and police killed at least two mor when shooting in response to protests at Jagama’s death (Reporter, 13 November, 2005). The Sunday Times (November 10) reported 17 others were wounded. Reporter also reported demonstrations, school closures and loss of lives in Ambo, Wollega, Adama (Nazareth), Woliso, Guder, Gedo and Haromaya and that the funeral of Jagama was attended by 50,000 people, which was also a sign of protest against the regime. The same day, students of Jimma zone, Qarsaa district (woreda), Qarsaa Tolii elementary school reportedly staged a peaceful demonstration in which they marched on the streets of the town in large numbers denouncing the regime and openly and loudly demanding their support for the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) to come and take over the governance of Oromia.
November 10, 2005. In response to the OLF’s call for revolt and outraged by the killings of Ambo high school, students of Biiftuu Ghmbi High School, Western Wollega zone staged a peaceful demonstration. The school was surrounded by the police force of the regime and several students were taken to jail. The same day students of several high schools of Western Shoa zone such as Xuqur Hincinnii, Gedo, Bako, Jajjii, Nekemte (Eastern Wollega), Shambu (Eastern Wollega), Kofale (Arsi), Shashamanne (Eastern Shoa), many other places staged demonestration. Hundreds of students beaten and arrested.
Nov. 11, 2005: Student protest continue in Jimma, Ambo (3rd day), Shashemenie, Haromaya (3rd day), Aweday, Ciroo, Dembidollo, Ghimbi (2nd day), Asela, Diredawa, Galamso, Badesa, Awaday, Bako, Warra Jarso, Innango (West Wollega) and Mojo. The entire public has joined the protests especially in Haromaya, Awaday, and Ciroo. About 100 were rounded up by police in Ciroo. Civilians in Mojo prevented police from taking several students to prison.
Nov 15, 2005: The student protests continue all over Oromia: Some of the protests that have been reported between November 12 – 15, 2005 are: Bishooftuu, Haroomaya University, Machaaraa, Miicataa, Harooreysaa, Miliqaayee, Gaadullaan, Nekemte, and Gidda Kiramu. By November 15, all schools of Western Shoa zone have been reported closed by the authorities of the regime.
Nov 16, 2005. Four students were killed when peaceful protestors were fired upon in Qore (Arsi zone). Local residents reacted with more protests and another six were shot dead (OSG report No. 42).
Nov 17, 2005. In response to the Qore killings of November 16 (above), students in Kofale (Arsi zone), Negelle, and Kuraya, staged large demonstrations. The same day 5000 Oromo students at universities in Gonder, Bahar Dar amd Mekele were beginning hunger strike in protest, against killings of Oromo students and the harassment of Gonder students under the pretext of investigating the burning of houses there (OSG report No. 42).
Nov. 18, 2005. Student protests continued in Hirna (Hararge), continued for that week, with nine more students and other residents, including a mentally disabled person, being added to those in the detention camp there. Many of those detained have been injured by beatings. The same day, farmers around Hirna refused to attend a government meeting and students and residents of Ciroo blocked roads to the town on another continued protest (OSG report No. 42).
Nov 19, 2005. Student demonstrations continued in Gindhiir (Bale zone). At around 8:30 pm, the police shot a young boy. This has caused much tension in this and neighboring towns. As a result, a nearby town, Dalloo Sabroo remained under siege by heavily armed government forces for several days. Residents are harassed and their movement within the town is heavily restricted. The same day it was reported that all schools in and around Kofalee (Arsii zone) remain closed since the uprising was ignited in early November. Extensive campaign of arrest has been unleashed in both the town of Kofalee and its surroundings. Eyewitnesses have reported that people are jammed into small cells and tortured daily.
Nov 20, 2005: Discomforted by the continued uprising of the Oromo people in Harargee zone Mr. Minaase W. Georgis, the then President of Oromia arrived at the city of Sakina, in Daroolabu district (Harargee). When the news of his arrival was leaked, Oromo people quickly gathered in the thousands and staged a demonstration, chanting and demanding implementation of article 39 of the Ethiopian constitution, demanding an immediate release of members of Macha and Tulama Self-help Organization, voicing their support for the OLF, and rejecting Minaase W. Giorgis as President of Oromia. Minaase immediately turned around and left the area without meeting anyone. Embarrassed by this development, the local OPDOs later embarked on indiscriminately harassing the residents. Their attempt to murder a resident named Diitaa Ahmad Muummee failed, but Diitaa was wounded slightly by a bullet shot by an OPDO envoy. It was reported that the OPDO has demanded that Diitaa pay for the lost bullet, reminiscent of the Derg regime (OSG report No. 42).
Nov 21, 2005. Students of Roobee Teacher’s Training College and surrounding schools (Bale zone) staged a demonstration. The same day Oromo people residing along the main road leading Roobee to Finifnee (Addis Ababa) expressed their protest by blocking the main highway using boulders and rocks. In retaliation, the police was ordered to arrest anyone seen outdoor after 9:00 pm. The police have been conducting 24 hour surveillance around residences of individuals suspected of sympathizing with the OLF (OSG report No. 42).
Nov 22, 2005. Oromos residing along the main road linking Finifinee and Western Oromia closed the artery highway at a place called Asgorii (Western Wollega). Demonstrators gathered at the blockage chanted slogans denouncing the Meles regime. The Ethiopian police was dispatched to the area to disperse the demonstrators who courageously resisted the police for several hours.
Nov 23, 2005: Students of Daaloo elementary school (Hararge) protested on the street burning OPDO flag and waving OLF flag.
Nov. 24, 2005. The residents of Shambuu (Eastern Wollega zone) protested by closing the main road leading to Baakkoo, thereby cutting the main line to and from the city (OSG report No. 42).
Nov. 25, 2005: Oromo students at the Jimma Teacher’s College staged peaceful demonstration. The Federal police attacked and injured several students while arresting 24 others. The same day, students of Galamso intensified the protest which they already begun on November 11 (Oromia Times, Nov. 30, 2005).
Nov. 29, 2005. Oromo students in Jaldu district of Western Shawaa zone staged a peaceful demonstration. As usual, the Ethiopian police attacked the protestors killing 2 students, Habtaamuu Bayyataa and Fiqaaduu on the spot, critically injuring two more, Nurressaa Katamaa Xaafaa, and also wounding several others. One policeman has been reported hurt during this demonstration. There has been extensive campaign of arrest in this district in both the city and the countryside. All schools in Jalduu remain closed since the uprising began. At the same time similar protests continued in neighboring districts of Geedoo and Haratoo (OLF Dec. 05, 2005).
Dec. 7, 2005. Classes at Jimma university had been stopped starting from December 7, 2005 because of clashes between Oromo and Tigrean students, leading to several arrests (Reporter Dec. 11).
Dec. 8, 2005. Students of Mendi district (Woreda) staged a massive demonstration which lasted all day during which 12 high school students were injured in clashes with police (Reporter, 11 December, 2005).
Dec. 13, 2005. Oromo students of Ziway, Eastern Shoa zone, demonstrate against the regime. The students later clashed with the police who tried to stop them in which two students and one police were severely wounded. Five other students have been abducted by the regime’s forces (Seife Nebelbal, 16 December, 2005).
Dec. 18, 2005. The Reporter wrote that students at Jimma University were refusing to resume classes because police and army were still on campus.
Dec 21, 2005. The private weekly Tikusa reported that six students died and six others were injured and sent to hospital when students blocked a road in Mendi [Kiltu Kara] to help prisoners heading to an unknown destination escape. Members of the military forces that were driving behind the truck which carried the prisoners opened fire and killed six students. The newspaper also reported the arrests of several Oromo Federalist Democratic Movement members in Nejo, Wollega.
Dec. 26, 2005. Hundreds of people from the towns of Mendi and Gimbi, Wallega, were rounded up and taken to Senkele Police Training Center in Ambo. Special forces surrounded the towns after the residents started holding protest rallies demanding the removal of Meles Zenawi and Juneidi Sado. (Ethiopian Review, 26 December, 2005).
Dec. 27, 2005. Dagim Wenchi reported two killings in student demonstrations in Boji Chekorsa, Wollega, and the arrests of several elders and youth in Gimbi. The youth were taken to Didhessa concentration camp.
Dec. 28, 2005. Toma reported the arrest of four businessmen in Dembi Dollo, Wollega, Yonas Gelan, Fekade Shibeshi, Kassahun Kitla and Belay Yadeta, and that those who were arrested from Dembi Dollo, Anfilo, Mughi and Gimbi were detained in Senkele police training camp. The same day ‘Parliamentarians representing the Oromo people have petitioned the House Speaker to discuss mass arrests in Oromia State’ the paper reported.
Dec. 30, 2005. VOA reporte the closure of the three high schools in Nekemte, Wollega, following student arrests and the killing of four students in Wollega that week. Police admitted over 300 arrests to VOA.
Jan. 20, 2006. All schools in the following towns have been reported closed due to continued students protest and extended popular uprising: Ambo, Tikur-Incini, Dembi Dollo, Gimbi, Qoree, Biyo Karaba, Asasa, Kofale, Gedo, Bako, Sarbo, Shashamane, Nekemte, Lalo Asabi, Jimma, Machara, Finca’a, Kombolcha, Xullo, Dhangago, Ciro, Oliqa Dingilu, Qelam, Haro Maya, Doba, Ginir, Habro, Matufi Darimu, Dire Dawa, Galamso, Badesa, Asabot, Bedeno, Mi’esso, Bordode, Mandi, Daro Labu, Gadulo, Gololcha, Calanqo, Awaday, Bate, Kara-Mile, Harar, Qobbo, Langey, Masala, Awash, Didhessa, Guttin, Haro Sabu and Gibe (OSG report No. 42).
The above selectively reported incidents are few of the widespread popular unrest in the entire Oromia, East, West, South, North, that was ignited on November 09, 2005 and continued for nearly two years. Tens of thousands of students, farmers, teachers, businessmen, and all sectors of the society have been jailed, tortured, disappeared, and killed in broad day light and in prison cells. While international media stands generally ignored this long-lived and massive popular unrest and unimaginable human rights abuse and loss of life, some humanitarian organizations such as Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Oromia Support Group, have shaded light to a small part of the uprisings, massive unrests, and brutal killings. On January 30, 2006, Amnesty International in its issue (AI Index: AFR 25/002/2006) reported:
“…The 11 students named above are among several thousand school and college students from the Oromo ethnic group who have been detained in a series of anti-government demonstrations in different parts of the Oromia Region, in the capital, Addis Ababa, and in other towns. All those named above are detained incommunicado at a number of different locations, and are at risk of torture or ill-treatment. The arrests have taken place during a wave of student demonstrations which began on 9 November 2005. The demonstrations are still taking place in some areas. Most of those taking part were secondary school students, some of them children under 18 years old, but teachers, farmers, businesspeople and others have also been detained in connection with the demonstrations. Most demonstrations reportedly began peacefully but some police and demonstrators were injured, property was damaged and explosions were reported in some places. The demonstrations are said to have taken place after a call by the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF), an armed opposition group, for demonstrations against the government. Demonstrators called, among other political demands, for the release of Oromo political prisoners, including officials of the Mecha Tulema Association, a long-established Oromo welfare association (emphasis mine).”
The total number of those killed in cold blood during and after the student demonstrations in Oromia remains unknown or simply under reported, but is believed to be several hundreds. The International Oromo Youth Associatio (IOYA) reported on December 10, 2006 that “…in the years 2005- 2006 alone, more than 500 students were killed by government’s security forces of which the record is available and widely reported by different media and human rights groups..”. On February 15, 2006 (about 3 months after the protests first broke out) the OLF reported in a press release:
“…Since the last press briefing many school children, university students, the young and elderly have been killed, and disappeared while tens of thousands have been imprisoned where they routinely faced torture. According to reliable reports, more than 105 have been killed in different parts of Oromia while 232 have disappeared without trace. The recent cold-blood massacre of 22 innocent people in Guduru is a graphic example of the facts on the ground. Prisoners are being picked from detention centers during the night never to return either to their prison cells or to their relatives (emphasis mine).”
The protests and peaceful demonstrations Oromo students are a manifestations of the anger and frustration of the Oromo people against the current brutal regime in Ethiopia. It also shows that the Oromo people are still under a “hidden” and new form of subjugation. The current regime in power may think it has relinquished the popular fire (uprising) that was ignited in the entire Oromia by force. But the student movements are reflections of the overall struggle of the Oromo people for democracy, justice and freedom. It will only stop when ALL the oppressors (those who are on power and those who intend to replace them) are gone from the Oromian soil for good and the Oromo people freely determine their fate.
It is to be noted that the above report is focused only on the protests in Oromia which broke out on November 09, 2005 and continued on-and-off in the entire region for nearly two years. The time these protest started also coincides with the widely reported protest in Finfinnee (Addis Ababa) and several major cities organized by the then CUD (Coalition for Unity and Democracy) in which some 200 people have been brutally murdered and tens of thousands jailed. The massive popular unrests in Oromia and in the entire Ethiopia against the current brutal regime may now look subdued for several reasons, but it is actually a ticking bomb that can explode at any moment just as it exploded suddenly on November 09, 2005 following a call from OLF and the post-election protests called by the CUD. And when it does, it has the potential to wash away the oppressors and their collaborators.