OSG in collaboration with other Oromo organisations is holding a two-day conference in London

 

Oromia Support Group

Oromia Support Group (OSG) in collaboration with other Oromo organisations is holding a two-day conference on the burning issue of the state of human rights and on strategies for advocacy and campaigning for the rights of the millions of people held as victims. In spite of the creation of the state of Oromia in 1991, under a false pretext of new political arrangement, the Oromo people are subjected to unprecedented socio-cultural, economic and political repression.

Constitutional guarantees that were declared to ensure the respect of people’s rights were silenced and very often conversely used and mobilised to justify repression. Over years thousands have been killed in their purist of seeking justice, such killing continues and happens everyday in broad daylight.  There is no sign of improvement of the state of human rights in Ethiopia.

The Oromia Support Group (OSG) has documented gross human rights violations for more than 20 years. The world seems to have noticed the stark reality during the recent Oromo protests. The memory of the world is short. It can’t remain focused on this single issue. This is primarily an Oromo concern, that has to be dealt with by Oromo people.

OSG believes, now is the time to devise a more robust and effective method of dealing with such endless tragedy, a human rights calamity. Actions include but not limited to advocacy and campaigning for respect for the rights of Oromo people and their neighbours.

This conference offers a platform for discussion on how to make this possible. Researchers and experts from human rights organisations, Oromo intellectuals and activists are among those invited to provide some perspectives on the current state of affairs and on the way forward. Particular focus will be given to:

  1. Sustainable/strategic campaigning and advocacy on human rights by the diaspora community and beyond.
  2. The role of civic society organisations and the media in advancing human rights norms and values and reporting incidences of violations of human rights.
  3. Strategic litigation on human rights and the possibilities of legal action will be assessed.

Individuals who want to present papers or speak on the above topic are most welcome. Interested persons shall email a short biography of their background and abstract of their presentation to.  oromiasg@gmail.com 

When: 8-9 July 2017 (10 AM to 17PM)

Where: Resource for London

356 Holloway Road,
London, N7 6PA
Contact us:  oromiasg@gmail.com

Oromian community rallies around one of their own

TREVOR HAGAN / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS</p><p>Teresa Fekensa got support from the local Oromian community during the Manitoba Marathon. </p>
TREVOR HAGAN / WINNIPEG FREE PRESSTeresa Fekensa got support from the local Oromian community during the Manitoba Marathon.

Although Teresa Fekensa has never been to Winnipeg before this weekend, he felt right at home at the Manitoba Marathon.

The 35-year old, who immigrated to Toronto two years ago, won the men’s full marathon with an impressive time of 2:38:03.2. Despite travelling from out of town for the event, Fekensa may have had the biggest cheering section. Members of the Oromo Association of Manitoba came out to support him, as nearly 20 local Oromians proudly waved their flags as Fekensa crossed the finish line. Oromia is a region in Ethiopia, where Fekensa is originally from.

TREVOR HAGAN / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS</p><p>Manitoba Marathon winner Teresa Fekensa with the flag of Oromia. </p>
TREVOR HAGAN / WINNIPEG FREE PRESSManitoba Marathon winner Teresa Fekensa with the flag of Oromia.

None of them had any relation to Fekensa or really knew him before he made the trip for the marathon, but when they heard one of their own were coming in to compete, they wanted to show their support and make him feel comfortable.

“Today is a win for everyone in our community,” says Aliya Balo, president of the Oromo Association of Manitoba.

Fekensa immigrated to Toronto because he felt he wasn’t getting the right training, but more importantly, because he was protesting against the government. Thousands of protesters in the Oromia region have been killed, so for his safety and passion for running, he had to leave.

“I came to Canada to run,” says Fekensa, who trains at the Toronto Olympic Club. “Because of the situation in my country, I protested and didn’t want to stay there.”

Members of the Oromo Association of Manitoba say their people back home have no freedom and are under military control. To show their support for the protests, they cross their arms above their heads, which is exactly what Fekensa did when he crossed the finish line at the Manitoba Marathon.

“If people do that (in Oromia), the (government) will shoot you,” says Yoseph Gobena, an Oromo Association of Manitoba board member who immigrated to Winnipeg in 2006. “We’re not allowed to freely share our interests and express our freedom.”

Fekensa’s achievement shows that Oromian’s can not only participate in the Canadian community, but also succeed, Gobena says. He hopes Fekensa can open the door for more Oromian runners to come to Canada and is thankful to the Canadian government for giving his people freedom.

Fekensa, who was happy to have the support of local Oromians, says he plans to return to Winnipeg next year to defend his title. But that’s not his only goal for the future.

“My goal is to run for Canada and win for Canada, in any marathon,” he says.

Emily Ratzlaff, a local physiotherapist, was the first woman to cross the finish line in the women’s full marathon. It was her second time competing at the Manitoba Marathon and her first time running the full marathon.

“I’m surprised that I won,” says the 31-year old who finished the race in 3:14:38.8.

When she was four miles away from the finish line, she was told she was the leader and she couldn’t believe it, she says.

“I was excited, but I was also in pain so I just needed to keep running and finish,” says Ratzlaff who has competed in the Boston Marathon twice.

In the half marathon races, it was a pair of Bisons that stole the show.

University of Manitoba Bisons’ track athlete Daniel Heschuk, 20, finished first in the men’s half marathon and 26-year-old former Bisons’ track athlete Jaclyn Adamson was the winner in the women’s half marathon.

Adamson came into the Manitoba Marathon with some extra confidence from winning a marathon in Fargo last month.

“I thought Fargo was a fluke, so I was happy with how today went,” she says. “I went into it with no expectations and didn’t know any ladies running.”

Adamson was surprised she ran this quick at the Manitoba Marathon because of the weather conditions. It was hard to get traction with the roads being slippery and that her clothes quickly felt heavy from all the rain, she says.

It was a difficult race for Heschuk, who is originally from Neepawa. Heschuk was unable to make it to the medal ceremony as he needed medical attention after the race.

“Honestly there was a couple times during the race where I thought I couldn’t do this anymore,” he says.

Heschuk says what got him through those tough stretches was thinking of his uncle Mark Cameron, who died last year at the age of 40 from complications in a surgery. His uncle went through a lot, as he lived with a learning disability and survived a leukemia diagnosis at the age of five. He says his uncle was a huge fan of Terry Fox and participating in the Terry Fox run, so he wanted to dedicate this year’s race to him.

“If he can go through all this pain growing up, I can go through one hour of pain in this marathon,” Heschuk says.

Source: Winnipeg free Press  

OMN holds live discussion on Oromia Support Group activities its coming London Conference

(Advocacy for Oromia, 12 June 2017) Mr Girma Gutema of OMN holds a wonderful discussion with the leading scholars and human right activists, Dr Trevor Truman and Dr Mohamed Hassen  where the history of Oromia Support Group, its activities and Oromia Human Rights abuses by the current and previous governments were discussed in details.

Irreechaa Arfaasaa held under the theme of “Our Forest Matters: Restoring the Spirit of Nature by Plant a Tree”

(Advocacy4oromia, Melbourne, 14 May 2017) — The Oromo Irreecha Arfaasaa festival held on 14 May 2017 for the third time in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia at Mount Dandenong.

The ceremony was celebrated at Mount Dandenong to promote the Oromo Good Spirit tradition and practice of caring for nature.

It was celebrated under the theme of “Our Forest Matters: Restoring the Spirit of Nature by Plant a Tree” in which it aimed to celebrate Irreechaa festivals to follow our tradition and religion in society, to create public awareness where Oromo cultural and religious practice advocates for harmonious ecosystem.

According to the organisers the festival was designed to provide a better understanding of Oromo culture, history and humanity, to pave the way for promotion of the Oromo culture, history, lifestyle and practice.

The Celebration of Irreechaa Arfaasaa, a national Spirit Day, is held yearly both to thank Waaqaa for the blessings and mercies received throughout the past dry season and to welcome the new rainy season associated with hard working and challenging negative impacts of climate.

The ceremony honoured the Oromo elders’ blessings and wisdom, and eventually helped to preserve the heritage and strengthen the progress of humanity. It is also committed to provide care and respect for mother earth.

And part of that providing care for nature element is engaging Oromo people in promoting and cultivating Oromo cultural practice that contribute for mother earth care.

 

So what’s the next step?

It’s easy to say get engaged but how?
And there are certain conditions required to promote Oromoi culture.

First, how to get engaged – two ideas:

One – empower yourself – learn and understand what Irreechaa, nature, land in Oromo perspective means. Knowledge is power.

Two- Practice your culture in your daily life!!

This Irreechaa festival is a good evidence that Oromo people have a deep relationship with the land and nature. As discussed on the ceremony, what is needed now is deep engagement with the rapidly evolving climate change because of their unique connection with land and nature will be affected in a profound and special way by climate change.

The theme of this year celebration is simple: plant a tree!! No matter where you live, you can plant a tree.

Oromo athlete to protest at London Marathon

Ethiopia elite runner Feyisa Lilesa poses during a photocall for the men"s marathon elite athletes outside Tower Bridge in central London on April 20, 2017 ahead of the upcoming London Marathon

AFP: The athlete says he could be killed if he goes back home

Exiled Ethiopian runner Feyisa Lilesa has vowed to protest against the government at Sunday’s London Marathon, saying “blood is flowing” in his home country.

Feyisa caught the world’s attention when made a protest gesture in solidarity with the Oromo people while crossing the line in the marathon race at the Rio 2016 Olympics.

In an interview with the BBC’s Sport Today, the silver medalist said he did not regret making the gesture.

How can I regret [it]? I come from the people. My people are dying, still. The blood is flowing.”

He added that would not return to Ethiopia while the current government was in power as he would be “automatically” killed, jailed or barred from leaving the country.

Feyisa refused to go back to Ethiopia after the Olympics, despite the government saying he would be welcomed as a hero.

He is currently living in the US with his wife and children on a temporary visa.

In Rio, Feyisa became the first Ethiopian to finish in the top two of a men’s Olympic marathon since 2000, claiming silver behind Kenya’s Eliud Kipchoge.

As he crossed the line, he lifted his arms to form an X above his head, the same gesture used in protests by the Oromo people, the country’s largest ethnic group, which has suffered a crackdown at the hands of the Ethiopian government.

The ‘X’ sign is used as a symbol of protest in Oromia, East Africa

The state-backed Ethiopia Human Rights Commission  said earlier this week that 669 people were killed in protests since November 2015.

The government has blamed the violence on “terrorists”.

A state of emergency has been in force since last October to curb the unrest.

Read more: Endurance test for Feyisa Lilesa

Guyyaa Yaadannoo Gootota Oromoof maal goonu?

The Spirit of April: Oromo Martrys’ Day

April 15th is the Oromo Martyrs’ Day, also known as Guyyaa Gootota Oromoo. This commemorative day was first started by the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) after the executions of its prominent leaders on a diplomatic mission en routed to Somalia on April 15, 1980. Since then, this day has been observed as the Oromo Martyrs’ Day by Oromo nationals around the world to honor those who have sacrificed their lives to free Oromia, and to renew a commitment to the cause for which they had died.

Why April 15th?
Mid 1978-1979 is remembered as the period when the survival of the Oromo national liberation struggle, led by the Oromo Liberation Army (OLA), was under a severe threat of extinction. It was feared that OLA units in Arsi, Bale and Hararghe would disintegrate, and their channel of connection and supplies would be cut off by the Dergue army that just recuperated from the Ethio-Somali war. Upon defeating the Siad Barre army, the Dergue turned its face on OLA. The OLA, in the fronts of Arsi, Bale and Hararghe, fought steadfastly and scored victory over the Dergue army and regrouped once again on January 1st 1980. In the wake of their military victory, OLF intensified its political struggle inside the country and abroad. The initial political victory included the persuasion of the Siad Barre government to allow the opening of OLF office in Mogadishu, Somalia, in 1980, to serve as a center of consultation and deliberation between OLF political and military leaders.

In the same year, a ten-member high-ranking military and political delegates (see list below) were on their way to Somalia to meet with political leaders there when they were captured by Somali bandits in Shinniga desert (in Ogaden). These bandits were members of a splinter group from the Siad Barre army that harbored bitter hatred towards Oromo and the OLF. These bandits abused and severely tortured their Oromo captives. The bandits finally ordered the Muslims and Christians to segregate before their executions. The Oromo comrades chose to stay together and face any eventualities than identifying themselves as nothing else, but Oromo. On the day of April 15, 1980, all the ten were executed and their bodies thrown into a single grave.

Reasons for Celebrating the Oromo Martyrs’ Day
There are four major reasons why we commemorate this day.

First, this day allows us to remember those Oromo heroines and heroes who sacrificed their lives to restore Oromo culture, identity, and human dignity that were wounded by Ethiopian colonialism. In other words, this commemoration assists us to recognize the dialectical connection between martyrdom, bravery, patriotism and Oromummaa. Until Oromo heroes and heroines created the OLF and maintained its survival by paying ultimate sacrifices, Oromo peoplehood, culture, language, and history were dumped into the trashcan of Ethiopian history. These heroes and heroines had clearly understood the significance of Oromo culture, history, language, and identity in building Oromummaa, and victorious consciousness to consolidate the Oromo national struggle for achieving Oromian statehood, sovereignty, and democracy.

Second, this commemoration day reminds us that Oromo liberation requires heavy sacrifices, and those who have given their lives for our freedom, are our revolutionary models. Such patriots created dignified history for our nation.

Third, this day reminds us that we have historical obligations to continue the struggle that Oromo martyrs started until victory.

Fourth, this celebration helps us recognize that Oromo heroes and heroines are still fighting in Oromia today. Overall, those Oromo patriots, who by luck have survived and continued the difficult and complex struggle, deserve recognition and respect for what they have done for their people. We must protect them from lies and propaganda of the internal and external enemies. Without the persistent efforts of our patriots, the multiple enemies of the Oromo nation would have destroyed the OLF a long time ago. This does not mean that we do not criticize them when they make mistakes. It is the responsibility of Oromo nationalists to develop constructive criticisms to strengthen our national movement.

The Oromo leaders and members of the OLF, who ignited the fire of Oromummaa or Oromo nationalism, whether dead or alive, have been the foundation and pillar of the Oromo national movement. They left their families, wives, husbands, houses, professions, and children by choosing Oromo human dignity and freedom. By making these kinds of difficult choices, they confronted suffering and death. Consequently, they opened a new historical chapter in our history, and showed to us new possibilities by taking risky and courageous actions. Today, Oromo heroes and heroines are engaged in the Oromo struggle; members of the OLA, Oromo activist students and other activists are our contemporary heroes and heroines, who are intensifying the struggle. All Oromos all over the world who demonstrate their support and sympathy for the Oromo national struggle by contributing whatever they can for these brave men and women are also engaged in patriotic and brave activities.

We, Oromos in exile/Diaspora, should follow the footsteps of the fallen and surviving Oromo heroes and heroes by contributing anything we can to support the Oromo national struggle. If the fallen Oromos had paid with their lives to liberate us, how can we fail to contribute our time, money and expertise to liberate our beloved country, Oromia? How can we sleep when our mothers, daughters and sisters are raped in Oromia? How can we be at peace when genocide is committed on our people? Since our people live under Ethiopian political slavery, and since no country supports the Oromo struggle, we must fulfill our historical obligations by supporting the Oromo national struggle.

April 15th is then chosen to be a day of remembrance for these and all other martyrs, who died in any month and season of the past 120 years of the Oromo anti-colonial struggle.

The following Oromo leaders were martyred on April 15, 1980
1. Bariso Waabii (Magarsaa Barii)
2. Gadaa Gammadaa (Demise Tacaane)
3. Abbaa Xiq (Abboma Mitikku)
4. Doori Barii (Yiggazu Banti)
5. Falmataa (Umar, Caccabsaa)
6. Fafamaa Doyyoo
7. Irrinaa Qacale (Dhibaa)
8. Dhadhachaa Mul’ataa
9. Dhadhachaa Boruu
10. Marii Galaan

Our martyrs lost their lives while dreaming and fighting for freedom, justice, democracy, and development of their people and their country. They recognized that agitating, educating, organizing, and mobilizing a colonized and dehumanized nation for liberation requires courage, determination, bravery and self-sacrifice without fear of suffering and death in the hands of the enemy and their collaborators. We have moral and national responsibilities to achieve the objectives for which our heroines and heroes sacrificed their lives. The Oromo national movement is a very dangerous project. Tens of thousands of our people have been imprisoned, tortured, raped, and received all forms of abuse from successive Ethiopian governments in general, and that of the Meles Zenawi in particular. The Tigrayan-led government has been systematically targeting and killing all Oromo leaders and those who have potentials of leadership while promoting the most despicable elements of Oromo society and the children of colonial settlers as leaders of the Oromo nation.

While commemorating our fallen heroes and heroines, we must also remember our current ones who are engaging in the bitter struggle and those who are suffering in Ethiopian prisons. We must double our support for the OLA that is engaging in implementing the missions of the fallen Oromo heroines and heroes in Oromian forests, valleys, mountains, and Ethiopian garrison cities. We should sustain the spirits of our fallen heroes and heroines by taking concrete actions every day. It is our national responsibility to educate, mobilize and recruit passive or unconscious Oromo individuals to join the Oromo national movement. Such actions must start in families by educating and training children; husbands and wives must teach one another and their children the essence of Oromoummaa. The spirits of our heroes and heroines require that all of us must be grass-root leaders who engage in a systematic struggle to fight those agents of the enemy or those misled individuals who undermine the Oromo national struggle intentionally or unintentionally.

All Oromo nationalists must be cadres, teachers, students, leaders, followers, fighters, financiers, ideologues, organizers, defenders and promoters of the Oromo cause. We should not keep quiet when certain individuals attack our organizations, leaders, communities and Oromo peoplehood to satisfy their troubled egos or their masters. If we do some of these activities in our daily lives, the spirits of our fallen heroes and heroines will survive through our actions.

May the spirit of April inspire in all of us a profound, genuine and transcendent sense of unity, commitment, and overall renewal that the time demands – for that is what it takes to advance the Oromo freedom struggle in this most critical times.

UNPO held successful conference entitled: “Women’s Inferno in #Ethiopia”

(Advocacy for Oromai, 27 March 2017) #UNPO in collaboration with the People’s Alliance for Freedom and Democracy (PAFD) and Liliana Rodrigues MEP (S&D) held successful conference entitled: “Women’s Inferno in #Ethiopia“.

The successful conference hosted a variety of high-level speakers, discussing the degrading #humanrights situation in Ethiopia today, especially for those from #marginalised communities.

The conference placed a focus on how women from these marginalised communities, namely #Ogaden, #Oromo, #Sidama, #Gambella and #BenishangulGumuz suffer from multiple layers of #discrimination.

The speakers shed a light on the use of #rape as a weapon of #war, and the necessity to provide women with the necessary care to recover.

Meet ONN: Dr. Trevor Trueman Chairman of Oromia Support Group Speaks

(Meet ONN, 24 March 2017) Dr Trueman shares his experience in human rights with Ob Rundassa Eshete of ONN. Dr Truman also discusses about the agony and the surrounding factors of the Oromo freedom struggles.

UNPO Releases Report on Human Rights in Ethiopia

(Advocacy4Oromia, 17 Marach 2017) UNPO has released a report on human rights in Ethiopia, shedding light on the worrying situation of the Oromo and Ogadeni peoples.

While international partners tend to hail Ethiopia as an African democratic role model and a beacon of stability and hope in an otherwise troubled region, the fundamental rights of the country’s unrepresented continue to be violated on a daily basis.
With the support of major international donors such as the European Union, Addis Ababa increasingly prioritises strong economic growth, development and a high degree of enforced political stability at the expense of human rights and civil liberties.
Ethiopia’s economy has been growing steadily in recent years, boasting a small emerging middle class and receiving continuously-increasing foreign investment. The country is seen as a key ally by Western powers in the fight against terrorism and the regulation of international migration.
Meanwhile, Ethiopia remains one of the world’s poorest countries, with a third of the population living in abject poverty and the country’s regime is also one of the African continent’s most authoritarian in character, cracking down mercilessly on those who voice dissent.
Those living in the Ogaden and Oromia regions are most vulnerable to the State-sponsored persecution. Protests in Oromia were violently repressed by the government since they started in April 2014, and continue to be.
“Jail Ogaden” holds thousands of prisoners of conscience in overcrowding conditions and unhygienic facilities. Rape is systematically used as a weapon by the government and local polices such as the Liyu Police, combined with other forms of torture. And those are just a handful of examples. 
As of March 2017, 300 people have died of hunger and cholera in the Ogaden region, because of the restrictions imposed by the Ethiopian government. Limitations on freedom of movement bars access to healthcare facilities and the trade embargo causes critical food shortages.
UNPO calls on the international community to play its role in safeguarding human rights by putting an end to the financial flows fueling the Ethiopian State’s oppression and intimidation of the most vulnerable among its population.
To view the report, please click here.