Monthly Archives: December 2014

Victoria Police Chief Commissioner Ken Lay stands down

By Cameron Best, staff

Updated earlier today at 1:32amTue 30 Dec 2014, 1:32am

Victoria Police Chief Commissioner Ken Lay

Victoria Police Chief Commissioner Ken Lay Photo: Victoria Police Chief Commissioner Ken Lay announces he will stand down. (Victoria Police) Related Story: Thousands march in Melbourne against family violence Map: Melbourne 3000

Victoria Police Chief Commissioner Ken Lay has announced he is standing down, three years after taking on the role.

Mr Lay made the decision to stand down to support his wife, who is facing an illness that requires treatment over the next 12 months.

“Being Chief Commissioner is an exhaustive job. It requires absolute focus, commitment and energy for 365 days a year,” he said at a press conference Monday morning.

“I simply cannot invest that energy at the moment.”

Mr Lay said he had been considering his decision for the past six months.

“My decision has not been made lightly but I believe it has been made for all the right reasons,” he said.

After coming to the top job in June 2011, Mr Lay developed a blueprint to change the strategic direction of policing in Victoria.

“The 50s and 60s were wonderful decades, but if we think we can use the same geographical model of policing 65 years on, we are putting our heads in the sand and we will do the community harm in the process,” he said.

“This change may well be uncomfortable for governments, the community and our organisation at first but I believe it is the right thing to do.”

Victoria could not have hoped for a better chief commissioner of police.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews

Mr Lay said his proudest achievement was helping to drive a change in community attitudes towards violence against women and children.

It prompted the State Government to announce a royal commission into family violence.

“These complex, yet cowardly crimes wreak untold havoc on our society,” Mr Lay said.

“They ruin lives and they are overwhelming our justice system.”

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews praised Mr Lay for his dedication to policing and his fight against family violence.

“No Victorian has had a more consistent and more important role in raising the awareness, particularly of men right across Victoria, that this is a crime and it is unacceptable,” Mr Andrews said.

“Victoria could not have hoped for a better chief commissioner of police.”

The ugly reality of violence against women

In Victoria alone, police respond to incidents of violence against women almost every 10 minutes. But ultimately this isn’t a police problem, says Chief Commissioner Ken Lay. It’s ours.

Police Association secretary Ron Iddles paid tribute to Mr Lay as a “very understanding and compassionate person”.

He said Mr Lay had been a stabilising figure in the police force.

“Victoria Police went through a reasonable rough time but he’s been able to steady that and build relationships with all the members and also the Police Association.”

Originally from Gippsland, Mr Lay has spent 41 years with Victoria Police, working his way up to the ranks of Assistant Commissioner and Deputy Commissioner before taking over from Simon Overland in 2011.

Mr Lay’s resignation will be made formal at the end of January.

Deputy Commissioner Tim Cartwright has been named as Acting Chief Commissioner.




On Dec. 21, 2014, more than 2,000  Oromo-Australians and friends of Oromo people floked to  Melbourne’s iconic Federation Square, braving dank and steamy spa-like weather conditions for the 7th annual “Oromia at Federation Square.”

SONY DSCStarted in 2008, the Oromia@fedsquare is a community festival organized by the Australian Oromo Community Association in Victoria meant to “celebrate and commemorate the beauty of the Oromo culture.” For the thriving Oromo-Ausralian community, the  event is an opportunity to share their history and rich cultural heritage with the city’s multicultural communities. For members of the Oromo community, it’s also a way of reconnecting with and honoring their customs and traditions.

“Starting Sunday afternoon, people visiting or passing by the Federation Square in Melbourne feel as though they’ve landed in another country in a different continent – Oromia, in the Horn of Africa,” the organizers said in a press release last week. The fedsquare, one of the busiest venues in Melbourne, hosts more than 2,000 jam-packed events and celebrations every year. The attendance of members of parliament Adam Bandt of Melbourne and representatives from Anthony Byrne office, who represents Holt, and Victorian Multicultural Commission Commissioner Chin Tan is an important recognition of Oromos contribution to the country’s multiculturalism. As with other new immigrant communities, Oromos have added color and so much significance to the Australian society in general. Most of its leaders have been recognized and awarded both locally and internationally for their active participation and outstanding contributions.

The event brings together families and friends from across Melbourne. Oromos from interstate and neigbouring countries such as New Zealand ocassionally join in the celebration. This year was not different. Visitors came from Brisbane, Sidney and even as far as Europe. Parents brought childred adorned in colorful cultural attires. This is the community’s way of educating other Australians about their identity while also passing on history and cultural heritage to the younger generation. The event features Oromo dance, spoken word, art exhibition, fashion show, a live-concert and elders blessings.

Amid chaotic diasporic life and recent political setbacks among the diaspora,  Oromia@fedsquare is one event that has not lost its colors and form over the last seven years. In fact, it has become a model for Oromo diaspora events. It brings together Oromos from all walks of life and political persuasions. It’s one place where the community joins hands and sing songs of unity, harmony and longing.

To be sure, unlike most Oromo diaspora events, the Oromia@fedsquare was not simply about lamenting the multifaceted injustices that the Oromo continue to endure in Ethiopia. It’s a magnificent occasion where Oromos embrace and demonstrate their pride. It is a day where Oromia’s multidimensional diversity is celebrated in all its forms: from clothing, artifacts, food  to history with pride and joy. It is a momentous expression of Oromumma, the Oromo identity.

It is also where the youth reaffirms their commitment to preserving Oromo heritage by taking the lead in organizing and showcasing various cultural programs. Most of the activities at this festival were conducted by the community’s active and vigilant youth members. The elders, also draped in Oromo cultural attire, held green grass and a prominent stick ( coqorsa and bokkuu. With the Oromo flag flying high around the square, women ululate holding their Siinqee, the symbol of power and womanhood among the Oromo,  and sing in praise of their fallen heroes while the youth and children cheer on. All the while, the fresh aroma of Oromia’s coffee would fill the air. For brief moments, the fed square resembled Oromia, the Oromo homeland — full of joy and freedom.

But this year Oromia@fedsquare has even gotten bigger and better. Children adorned with saddeetta sang shagoyee, whilst those as young as five educated the spectators about the five Oromo odaas. The children also took the centrestage when the band played adding more color and beauty to the event.

This year also ushered in new faces as far as from Germany, young musician and rapper Leencho Abdushakur was invited to entertain the crowd with a mix of poetry, spoken word and singing. We also had other prominent personalities, including Oromo comedian Sadam Haska aka Sadamiyyo from Oromovines.  This year, federation square was not only about singing and dancing, it was about recognition and awards.

Early Sunday morning, excitement filled the sorrunding area as hosts, Soreti Kadir  and Toltu Tufa walked onto the stage beautified by their Qoloo (red and black striped Arsii dress). Commuters  from the trams, chariots, trains and vehicles stopped to a glimpse of what was happening before their lights turned green.

The event was formally opened with the singing of the unofficial Oromo “anthem”:  Alaaba Oromo. This was followed by a fashion show and dance performces which led many to shed tears of happiness and pride.

Melbourne-based rappers featuring Milkeysa Ahmed and Dammeysa Ahmed aka Dee Banga moved the crowd with their creative and peotic rap and hip hop in Afaan Oromo and English. Through their poetry and rap, the youngsters lamented about Oromo heritage and political struggle. Their song was also about belonging and longing, roughly put as a yearning of someone trying to fit-in or finding one’s place both in Oromia and Australia.

Abdi Johar, a young star from one of the most reknowned cities of Oromia, Dire, sang ‘’Assabelahoo- one of the most famed  songs of the legendary Ali Birra. The ground beneath felt as if it’s literally moving. His voice and the meaningfulness of the song moved the heart and minds of Oromos, young and old. In the euphoria of the moment, the song brought memories of homesickness and a collective sense of statelessness. Of course the band entertainment would be incomplete without the performance of the one and only Kumala Adunya, kicking off his best work with ‘asheeta’ and taking us through the melodies and sounds of Oromia

SONY DSCAt the conclusion of formal events, the crowd began to rock and roll Oromo style. As a symbol freedom and peace, white doves were released into the clear sky by the elders and  VIP guestsas crowd the screamed ‘’free Oromia’’ at their highest pitch.

Even after the formal conclusion of the event, the eunthisiastic crowd hang about fidgeting, posing for photos and anticipating about 2015, still in celbratory mood. It is no exaggeration to say Oromia @fedsquare was a celebration of Oromummaa in all of its diversity.

*The writer, Sinke Wesho, is a Melbourne-based contributor.


Press Release: Oromia at Federation Square Returns to Melbourne

The following  press release is  from the Australian Oromo Community Association in Victoria Inc.

The annual “Oromia at Federation Square” cultural festival of the Oromo will be held for the 7th year on Dec. 21, 2014. The famous Oromo artist Lencho Abdishakur will headline the Oromia at Federation Square concert program.

20th of December 2014

Oromia at Federation Square has continued to attract huge crowd

logo2Oromia @ Federation Square is one of the biggest Oromo community festivals held every year in Melbourne, Australia. Every year since 2008, members of the Oromo community and friends of the Oromo people across Australia have congregated on one summer day in December at Melbourne’s Federation Square to celebrate and commemorate the beauty of the Oromo culture. This year’s Oromia @ Federation Square will be held on Sunday, December 21, 2014.

Not surprisingly, the entire festival is a jam-packed affair. Without exception, Australian Oromo men and women – both young and old – band together to showcase superb performances of dances, arts, spoken words, traditional clothing and blessings that touch the anticipating hearts and festive souls of the eager crowd. People from all walks of life are entrenched with Oromo tradition as theOromummaa spirit truly comes alive.

Over the years, influential people in the community, including Members of Parliament – Mr. Adam Bandt, MP for Melbourne, and Mr. Anthony Byrne, MP for Holt, and Victorian Multicultural Commission Commissioner, Mr. Chin Tan, have joined our festivities – commenting specifically on the vibrancy of the Oromo culture and the energy of the crowd.

Starting Sunday afternoon [Dec. 21, 2014], people visiting or passing by the Federation Square in Melbourne will feel as though they have landed in another country in a different continent – Oromia, in the Horn of Africa.

About Oromo and Oromia
– Over 40 plus million population
– Origin of human race
– Origin of Gadaa system
– Birth place of coffee
– Home to world class athletes
– One nation with multi-faith society: Christianity, Islam and Waaqeffannaa
– 3rd largest single nation in Africa
– Single largest nation in East Africa
– Has been occupied by Ethiopia for over 130 years
– Unaccounted number of Oromo refugees lives in almost all other countries of Africa.
– Struggling for Self-Determination

Oromia at Federation Square has continued to attract huge crowd, and this year will be no exception.

Artifacts exhibition will be on display from 2:00pm, and the cultural show will start at 3:00pm.

For further information,

Oromia at Federation Square Press Release

OROMO & OROMIA Brochure 2014

For further contact please call Mr. Aliye Geleto Anota on 0422602204 or Mr Yadata Saba on 412 795 909 or email

Oromia @ Federation Square from Media


Oromia @ Federation Square Festival



‪#‎oromodeathincustody‬: Dirribi Nagasa passed away in Gedo hospital

(Advocacy for Oromia, 11 December 2014) Here is another story of Oromo death in custody related news from central Oromia, East Africa.

Barsiisaa Dirribii Nagaasaa ‪#‎oromodeathincustody‬ is currently an issue of Oromo community because of a widespread perception that a disproportionate number of Oromo had died in jail after being arrested by the security agent, the police and prison authorities.

This concern is particularly at high stage right now as there was/is a perception amongst Oromo community that the deaths are/were being caused, either directly or indirectly, by the security agent, the police and prison authorities against the innocent Oromo individuals.

Dirribi Nagasa was arrested from Adama University in 2010 and released in August 2014 after a long time torture. He was bitten and tortured by security agents ‪#‎BecausIamOromo‬ and denied medical treatment while he was in custody. He was passed away on December 8, 2014 in Gedo, Central Oromia.

Recent Records

alsanHassanA 21-year old Oromo student, Nuredin Hasen, who was abducted from Haromaya University late last month and held incommunicado at undisclosed location, died earlier this month from a brutal torture he endured while in police custody, family sources said.

Members of the federal and Oromia state police nabbed Hassen (who is also known by Alsan Hassen) and 12 other students on May 27 in a renewed crackdown on Oromo students. Friends were not told the reason for the arrests nor where the detainees were taken.

Born and raised in Bakko Tibbe district of West Shawa zone, Alsan, who lost both of his parents at a young age, was raised by his grandmother.

rab_june120142On June 6, another Oromo political prisoner, Nimona Tilahun passed away in police custody. Tilahun, a graduate of Addis Ababa University and former high school teacher, was initially arrested in 2004 along with members of the Macha Tulama Association during widespread protests opposing the relocation of Oromia’s seat to Adama. He was released after a year of incarceration and returned to complete his studies, according to reports by Canada-based Radio Afurra Biyya.

Born in 1982, Tilahun was re-arrested in 2008 from his teaching job in Shano, a town in north Shewa about 80kms from Addis Ababa. He was briefly held at Maekelawi prison, known for torturing inmates and denying legal counsel to prisoners. And later transferred between Kaliti, Kilinto and Zuway where he was continuously tortured over the last three years. Tilahun was denied medical treatment despite being terminally ill. His death this week at Black Lion Hospital is the third such known case in the last two years.

For more information:

History has taught us that freedom is not free. When push comes to shove, the fearless protectors are the brave who’ve answered the call in sacrifice.
Rest in Peace!

Today is Human Rights Day–Here’s What You Can Do

Today is International Human Rights Day, which marks the anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights on December 10, 1948. Crafted in the shadow of the horrors of the Holocaust and World War II, the Declaration gave the world the vision it needed to stand up to fear and the blueprint it craved to build a safer and more just world.

HumanRightsDay-265x168It is a bold document, based on a single premise – that the “recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world.” Eleanor Roosevelt, who led the drafting and adoption of the Declaration, understood that we are all members of the human family, and that for governments to prosper and wars to cease, we must treat each other with the same respect and candor that we treat our own families. She knew this would not be easy or popular and that she would be accused of championing ideals that could never be achieved. But she persisted; knowing that without ideals, politics and policy are merely power games without a soul.

She urged America and the world to recognize that human rights “begin in small places, close to home…the places where every man, woman and child seeks equal justice, equal opportunity, equal dignity without discrimination.” And that “unless these rights have meaning there, they have little meaning anywhere.” But she also knew that rights come with responsibilities. For rights to exist here and around the world, we must recognize, implement, and defend them. As she often argued: “Without concerned citizen action to uphold them close to home, we shall look in vain for progress in the larger world.”

Eleanor Roosevelt dedicated her life to promoting this vision. Hillary Clinton dedicates her life to implementing it. It is not simple work. “Our challenge,” Hillary wrote in “Hard Choices,” “is to be clear eyed about the world as it is while never losing sight of the world as we want it to be.”

From the White House to the halls of the Senate and the State Department, Hillary strove to make these ideals a vibrant part of American domestic and foreign policy. Sometimes she did it with bold pronouncements on the world stage as she did in Beijing when she declared that “women’s rights are human rights, and human rights are women’s rights.”

Sometimes she did it by creating departments like the Global Office of Women’s Issues or elevating the State Department’s human rights office. Other times she did it in hundreds of quiet meetings with human rights activists and dozens of town hall meetings she held in communities from Argentina to Pakistan to South Korea. These conversations were not easy. Some leaders feared for their lives, others for their families, and others challenged Hillary to do more than she could possibly do. But she did not shy away from them. Indeed, she sought them out – even when she could do no more than lend the power of her position and her stature to their defense.

But three examples stand out.

In 2011, Ugandan thugs killed David Kato, a gay rights activist, and the Ugandan minister of ethics and integrity announced that “homosexuals can forget about human rights.” Rather than just mourn David and issue a formal rebuke, Hillary decided to confront, head on, the targeting of LGBT people sweeping Kenya, Nigeria, Uganda, Iran, and Russia.

She decided to return to Geneva, home of the United Nations Human Rights Council and thousands of global diplomats, on International Human Rights Day. Before an overflow audience, in remarks streamed live around the world, she confronted this outrageous behavior. LGBT people are part of the world’s family. “Like being a woman, like being a racial, religious, tribal, or ethnic minority, being LGBT does not make you less human. And that is why gay rights are human rights, and human rights are gay rights.”

In 2012, in the middle of our nation’s most intense economic negotiations with China, Hillary had an unexpected, stark choice to make. One of China’s most famous dissidents, the blind Chinese human rights activist Chen Guangcheng, had made a daring midnight escape from the guards surrounding his home, to seek sanctuary in the U.S. Mission. He did not know if he wanted to leave China and he had broken his foot during his flight. He called the Beijing Mission, which then called Hillary in the middle of the night. Hillary had worked hard to develop candid and productive relationships with the Chinese ministers so she knew how the Chinese would react and the damage the news of Chen’s escape could do to the summit. But she wanted to help Chen. She instructed embassy staff to find him, bring him in, and give him medical care. The Chinese were shocked, but Hillary kept them at the table, the summit continued, and Chen enrolled in a New York law school. His family came with him.

At home, America reels from the tragic deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner. A bitterly divided nation once again questions whether justice is possible and whether different races can pierce the divides that separate and stereotype them. As protests erupted across the nation, Hillary challenged us not to lose sight of our common humanity. “I know that a lot of hearts are breaking, and we are asking ourselves, ‘Aren’t these our sons? Aren’t these our brothers?’ The most important thing each of us can do is to try even harder to see the world through our neighbors’ eyes. To imagine what it is like to walk in their shoes, to share their pain and their hopes and their dreams. These tragedies did not happen in some far-away place. They didn’t happen to some other people. These are our streets, our children, our fellow Americans, and our grief. We are all in this together, we can all do better.”

We can do better. That’s what human rights mean.

Eleanor Roosevelt believed it and Hillary knows it. It is hard, tiring work. It takes the courage to dream, the political skills necessary to implement the dream, and a heart fierce enough to continue the struggle. On this day, let us recommit. Let us hear Hillary’s call. We must “never rest on [our] laurels. Never quit. Never stop working to make the world a better place. That’s our unfinished business.”

ALLIDA BLACK, Ph.D., is the chair of Ready for Hillary and an Eleanor Roosevelt historian. She is a research professor of history and international affairs at the George Washington University in Washington, D.C.


Oromia @ Federation Square 2014

Oromia @ Federation Square is one of the biggest Oromo Community festivals held every year. Since the beginning, Oromo people from across Australia congregated at Federation Square to celebrate and commemorate the beauty of Oromo culture.

Jihad of Love: “voice of a generation,” by Boonaa Mohammed

Dubbed the “voice of a generation,” Boonaa Mohammed is a critically acclaimed award winning writer and performer with accolades including a playwright residency at Theatre Passe Muraille, a short story published in a Penguin Canada anthology called “Piece by Piece” and various slam poetry titles including winner of the 2007 CBC Poetry Face-Off “Best New Artist” award.

As an Artist he has toured and traveled across the world and frequently conducts writing workshops and seminars, sharing his experience and expertise in social justice based story telling with mainly youth from all walks of life.

Afaan Song