Daily Archives: July 18, 2013
(A4O, 18 July 2013) In August 2011, Bekele Gerba, an English teacher at Addis Ababa University and prominent politician, met with a delegation from Amnesty International to discuss the human rights situation in Ethiopia.
Gerba, a vocal activist on behalf of his largely Muslim Oromo people, was deputy chairman of the opposition party Oromo Federalist Democratic Movement (OFDM) and a member of the executive committee of Medrek, the country’s main opposition coalition.
To the Ethiopian government, however, Gerba was a terrorist. Four days after the meeting, he was arrested. In November 2012 Gerba was convicted and imprisoned under Ethiopia’s 2009 Anti-Terrorism Proclamation for association with the banned Oromo Liberation Front (OLF), which the government has asserted is linked with al-Qaeda affiliated entities.
According to organisations like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, however, Gerba was guilty of being Oromo and talking of the plight of his people. Shortly before his arrest, Gerba had described the challenges facing his community, telling Voice of America “Anyone who speaks the [Oromo] language and does not belong to the ruling party is a suspect and can be taken to prison any time.” Gerba and other incarcerated Oromo (Oromo rights groups estimate there are around 20,000 Oromo political prisoners in Ethiopia) continue to spark protests in Ethiopia and across the global Oromo diaspora.
Who are the Oromo?
(A4O, Jul 18, 2013) On July 4th, Oromos gathered in Minnesota to celebrate the 50th Golden Jubilee of artist Ali Muhammed Birra. As a lifelong friend and compatriot, Dr. Gemechu Megerssa talks about Dr. Ali Birraa, Afran Qallo, the concept of Oromo, Oromummaa, the Oromo notion of race, “we” & “them” dichotomy & much more.
Dr. Gemechu also shares his work, life, knowledge of Anthropology of over the last 40 years experiences.
In this first part, Dr. Gemechu discusses his life and work, the legacy of the Afran Qallo cultural movement, Ali Birra’s work, and his understanding of Oromumma.
The following individuals contributed to the rich discussion with Dr. Gemechu: Dr. Ezekiel Gebissa, Ayantu Tibeso, Jawar Mohammed, Hashim Adam, Girma Taddese, Birhanemeskel Segni.