This time around though, things are not the same. The entire training has three important milestones additional to what it had in post-2005 election. First, OLF is back into the scene. They have never allotted such big chunk of their time for OLF before. I think the assumption of ‘’we have destroyed OLF for good’’ has backfired. The federal government wants to consolidate the strategy of portraying OLF as an evil organization. This would make it easy for the security to kill or harass and yet again blame the victims. Second, however limited data we have, a pattern has emerged from past elections in Ethiopia. The government have realized that the upcoming election is not like the last one. Mergers, diaspora based campaigns and pressure from international community, are mounting and they know they can’t subdue a nation-wide protest.
The government knows students are its enemies because they are the major forces behind the opposition movements, extending their reach deep into rural constituencies. So it wants to actually lure some of the students to its member organizations, to intimidate others with propaganda, and debilitate many more not to take part in opposition parties. Third, the recent report and recommendation by Addisu Legese is resonating among OPDO and ANDM officials and they are desperately attempting to beg for the youth to embrace their political path. Although Abbaa Duulaa was successful in drawing the ‘’Genius Youth’’ in the past, the interference from TPLF would only mean both OPDO and ANDM would continue to be parties of idiots.
The trainings are given at all higher education students across the country in their respective regions. But there is a stark difference and exception when it comes to universities in Oromia. In Oromia, the universities are surrounded by security forces and students are kept away from urban population. This is taken as precaution to avoid any possible alliance between the students and the inhabitants, that for example, have happened repeatedly in Ambo town. Moreover, in case students resist or walkaway, the security wants to take measures without the knowledge of the inhabitants of the cities, but that often is not the case.
In other regions such as Amhara and SNNPR, students are not surrounded by security forces and they are free to speak their mind. As sources indicate from Bahirdar, Gondar and Debre Markos, the entire situation is calm and people are fiesting and nobody is questioning the students for their opposition to the training. At Bahir Dar, students even sidelined the manual of the training and no ‘’Agenda’’ could dictate the discussion.
One might ask why are these all chaos in Oromia? The answer is very easy. Since May last year, the region is under military occupation. It is being ruled by a TPLF military. The military doesn’t even trust the Oromia police and it moves into and keeps a permanent presence in places such as Nekemte, Ambo and Jimma.
While appearing as if trying to bridge continuously rifting gap between two largest communities in the country, TPLF is actually firing conflict. There are already irreconcilable differences and questions between students from the two communities. Oromo students demand for greater autonomy of Oromia while the Amhara students insist for more centralization. And the Oromo students are the only victims of imprisonment, torture and death just for asking such questions. And it is easy to imagine how these students see one another when back to school in September.
Such training in Oromia would not be successful for three reasons. First, it serves as means of resistance for students who already are mourning from deaths of students during last year’s #OromoProtests. Second, militarizing the trainings demonstrates the savage nature of TPLF and that would certainly adds up on the the rife resentment against it. Third, such trainings are instrumental to develop the discussion culture among the Oromo youth, however unlikely they can discuss freely. So in a way, it is helping the youth shape its future, evaluate political paths. Just like the training during post-2005 election, this training will backfire and will only intensify the Oromo struggle for freedom. There is no way the Oromo quest for freedom can be contained by some designed training; our struggle is based on truth and no propaganda should prevent us from our journey towards freedom.