Monthly Archives: April 2015
(Advocacy for Oromia, 30 April 2015) The Australian Oromo Community in Victoria will be gathering at Spring Street and corner of Treasury Place, next to Victoria Parliament in Melbourne on Friday 1st May at 10 am.
According to Press Release the objective of the rally is to express our grave concern and appeal to the recent tragedies on Oromo and other refugees from Horn of Africa. The recent killings of Oromo refugee in Libya and South Africa and displaced Oromo refugee Yemen due to war are heart breaking.
Oromo refugees, who have escaped the dire situation in their home country, faced daily terror at the hands of the Ethiopian regime. They have fled from the widespread extra-judicial killings, abductions and disappearances, removal from their ancestral land, torture and constant humiliations that has been going on for years. Hence, many Oromo refugees have been forced to flee from their homeland.
However, the intimidation and harassment of Oromo refugees continued to the extreme. On Sunday, 19th of April the terrorist group ISIS in Libyan released videos of the men being beheaded, and another group were being shot. As a community we describe the execution of those innocent refugees is absolutely barbaric and unacceptable. Similarly, the current situation of Oromo refugees in Yemen and South Africa gravely concerns us. As the result of war and conflict in Yemen and the wide-ranging spread of anti-immigration sentiment in South Africa, the current situation of Oromo refugee is terrifying. It is very disheartening to hear about this development of communal hatred on our refugee population, intolerance and politicisation of religion.
Oromo refugees are experiencing agonising dreadful of human right violations in countries where they are seeking UNHCR protection as a refugee. The Ethiopian government is hunting these refugees in Yemen, even in the refugee camp while they are under UNHCR to forcefully take them back to Ethiopia by bribing security forces in the country.
Ethiopia’s human rights abuses are well documented by human rights watch and US state departments and the current Oromo protests has renewed support to launch an international investigation to bring the responsible perpetrators to justice.
In response, more than 10 international cities including Washington, Toronto, Oslo, Frankfurt and London have staged mass peace protests, picking up interest globally and trending heavily on social media. Many Oromo community members have also established emergency appeal and fundraising to support people who are in need.
On Friday, Australian Oromo community will call on the Australian government to urgently consult UNHCR and other international aid agencies to rescue Oromo refugees particularly, in Libya, Yemen and South Africa. It will also appeal to Australian government to set an example by using its influence in the United Nations to put political, economic and diplomatic pressures upon the Ethiopian government to stop its continued attack on Oromo lives, their political organisations, educational establishments and the right to self-determination.
Members of Australian Oromo community in Victoria will be gathering at Spring Street and corner of Treasury Place, next to Victoria parliament in Melbourne on Friday 1st May at 10am.
For information, please call Yadata Saba (+61 412 795 909)
EXCLUSIVE: IBTimes UK talks to Nael Goitom, who escaped IS in Libya after a month in captivity.
By Gianluca Mezzofiore Senior Foreign News Reporter from Catania
April 23, 2015 09:50 BST
A 16-year-old Eritrean migrant who escaped captivity under the Islamic State (Isis) in Libya has exclusively told IBTimes UK that the jihadists forced him to watch the beheading and shooting of Eritrean and Ethiopian Christians.
Nael Goitom fled IS captivity along with four other Eritreans minors on 7 April after the extremists decided to move their Libyan camp in the desert to get away from fighting in the area.
“We thought: it’s better to try to escape than to wait to be slaughtered by them,” he told IBTimes UK in an interview. They walked for four days before reaching a settled area and asking for help.
Under more than a month of IS captivity, the Christian boys were forced to learn the Koran to become “Cubs of the Caliphate”. “They asked us ‘what do you choose, to be killed or to become Muslims?’ Of course we choose the latter. ‘We’ll fight for you’, we said,” Nael said.
But the most harrowing account regards the execution of dozens of Ethiopian and Eritrean Christians in Libya by IS militants, which was shown in a 30-minute video featuring extensive rants against Christianity and the West.
The final part of the clip shows a group of men dressed in black who are said to be hostages in southern Libya held by a group of IS fighters clutching machine guns.
Then, the prisoners are shot in the back of the head. The video also depicts masked militants escorting a group of men in orange jumpsuits along a beach. The men’s severed heads are later shown in the sand.
‘We were forced to watch IS cutting heads’
“They made me watch everything,” Nael said. “After the kidnapping they put us in one big hole, Eritreans and Ethiopians.”
“Then one day they came over and brought black clothes and asked 47 people to wear them. Then, they took them to the sea. They also carried 10 minors, I was among them. I saw when IS shot them dead. We kept screaming,” he continued.
The jihadists reportedly did the same with the rest of the group – about 14 people – who were forced to wear orange jumpsuits. “We were forced to watch IS cut their heads,” Nael said.
The boy was kidnapped on 3 March after he crossed Libya from Sudan along with other 61 Eritrean men, 10 Eritrean women and 8 Ethiopians. About 20 or 30 armed IS members stopped the Tripoli-bound caravan of migrants in the middle of the southern Libyan desert and they started asking religious questions.
“They wanted to know who was Muslim among us. We Christians had crosses and pictures of Jesus, so we really couldn’t hide it,” he said.
‘I keep seeing people being slaughtered and shot one by one’
Somalians were allowed to continue, while Eritreans and Ethiopians were driven to the IS camp in the desert. There were about 300-400 members of the jihadist group in the camp and for days the prisoners, who were tied and held in a large hole, were told that “the boss will come and decided our destiny”.
Nael recognised three Eritreans fighting for IS. “We hoped they were going to help us, but instead they showed no emotions,” he said.
After his escape, Nael and four other minors – Yohannes Mebrahtu, Thomas Ghiwet, Abraham Naizghi and Aman Shishay – walked for four days before running into a Sudanese man who drove them towards the Sahara where most of the refugees gather. Then, a smuggler got them into Tripoli, where Nael’s brother lives.
Despite the lucky escape, Nael is still traumatised by the ordeal.
“I’m starting to process it now. Until a few days ago it was just a matter of survival. Now I have a lot of nightmares, I keep seeing people being slaughtered and shot one by one,” he said.
90 graduations later…. Minnesotans are changing the world one girl at a time!
WHEN: Saturday, May 2, from 5-7:30pm
WHERE: Plymouth Congregational Church
1900 Nicollet Avenue, Minneapolis
Over the last 10 years, more than 90 girls completed their education in Ethiopia thanks to the support and contribution of Minnesotans and the work done by the Minnesota based organization, Resources for the Enrichment of African Lives (REAL). In a country where less than one in five girls makes it to secondary school, this is quite an achievement and a testimony to the unique education model created by the organization. REAL is celebrating its ten year anniversary and getting ready for 120 more graduations!
You can join REAL’s ten year celebration of educating disadvantaged girls in Ethiopia on May 2nd. The evening will include the Keynote Speaker, Michele Garnett McKenzie, Director of Advocacy at The Advocates for Human Rights as well as a Traditional Ethiopian dinner, music and inspiring stories of girls who changed their lives through the support from REAL.
Why Girls Education & Why Ethiopia?
The need to empower girls and women in Ethiopia is critical. According to World Health Organization study, 81% women said that battering a women/wife is justified. And there are a lot of studies on girls school dropout rates, domestic violence, circumcision and harmful practices that impact the wellbeing of girls and women in Ethiopia. Though education can make a woman to be financially self-sufficient and independent, it takes a great deal of strategizing and investment to change the attitude of the society in general. Our organization is dedicated to have lasting transformation to change the condition of girls and women in Ethiopia.
REAL helps brilliant yet disadvantaged girls and young women stay in school by providing them with school fees and mentorships to help them break the cycle of poverty for themselves and their families and, possibly their country. In sub-Saharan Africa, less than one in five girls makes it to secondary school, a fact that has a multitude of causes, one of these being poverty. Through its holistic structure, REAL aims to not only make it possible for disadvantaged girls to attend school, but to also financially empower them and their families.
Currently, over a hundred girls are supported by REAL. There are fifty three REAL girls attending universities, pursuing degrees in medicine, engineering, teaching, and law. Nine have already graduated and are currently employed. Additionally, thirty nine graduated from vocational colleges and are employed in different fields and are giving back to their communities. Over 10 years, 0ver 300 girls have been the program and impacted over 2,000 family members.
REAL focuses on educating and empowerment of girls, but the name points to the true effect of educating women—the enrichment of African lives. REAL founder Tsehai Wodajo says, “Girls, families, villages, countries are changed when girls are educated.” Ten years of this carefully structured program has proven this to be true.
REAL’s work is supported by volunteers from the US and Ethiopia, and nine fulltime employees at the eight sites. REAL proves again the truth of Margaret Mead’s famous statement: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” This is what REAL has been doing.
Please visit our website at www.real-africa.org.to learn more and to RSVP for the May 2nd celebration, or contribute online. We also appreciate if you can cover our story.
Media Release in PDF Press_Release_REAL_2015-version4
Tsehai Wodajo, REAL Executive Director
By Panos Institute West Africa (PIWA)
(Advocacy for Oromia) This is an interview with two representatives of Oromo from Oromia, East Africa explaining the origin of the “crimes” against Oromo. They were taking part in the World Social Forum 2015 in Tunisia.
(Advocacy fo Oromia, 9 April 2015) Two prominent Oromo scholars, Prof. Asafa Jalata and Aad. Zeituna Kalil, organized a workshop entitled, “The Oromo Students Protest Movement and the Tigre-led Ethiopian Government’s Repression,” at the World Social Forum, held from March 24 to 28, 2015, in Tunis, Tunisia.
According to the information released by Dr Asafa Jalata, this workshop was organized under the themes of equality, dignity and rights. The central themes of this global forum included the crossroads of citizenship; beyond borders crossroads; the planet neighborhood; the square of social justice; the neighborhood of equality, dignity and rights; and the square of economy and alternative to neo-liberal globalization.
At the same time, different social, political, cultural and economic movements organized events and activities in open spaces and in tents demonstrating their agendas through slogans, flags, dancing, singing, and the distribution and exchanging of information.
The slogan of the forum was “Another World is Possible.” This slogan reflects the political aspiration of the Oromo people in general, and the Oromo students in particular – who are struggling and sacrificing their precious lives to create a free and democratic Oromia, which will be liberated from of all forms of oppression, exploitation, murder, terrorism and gross human rights violations.
This does not mean that the Oromo only care for themselves; but their struggle is an integral part of the struggles of all colonized peoples, particularly those groups that have been brutalized and have suffered under the yoke of Ethiopian colonialism. So while struggling to liberate their country, the Oromo also aspire to build a multinational democracy with peoples who are also struggling for liberation, sovereignty, democracy and social justice.
Despite the fact that we were very delighted to be part of this progressive global forum, and the aspiration of our people goes with the aspirations of these progressive global social forces, we were also disappointed and frustrated because, as a people, our actions are lagging behind that of others. We are allowing our precious time consumed by internal fighting rather than taking our national struggle to the global stage.
Today, millions of Oromos are in the Diaspora, but at the same time, they are disconnected from the world. The main responsibility of the Oromo Diaspora should be to form global networks and establish global solidarity for the Oromo national movement in Oromia and beyond. Because of the lack of a global Oromo organization, solidarity, and networks, the Oromo in the Diaspora are not effectively exposing the barbarism or fascism of the Tigre government. The Tigre government has been imprisoning, torturing, and killing Oromo nationalists, particularly our young people, while transferring Oromo lands and other resources to Tigre elites, and their regional and global supporters.
Also, the Oromo Diaspora is not effectively supporting the Oromo national struggle morally, financially, ideologically and diplomatically in Oromia and beyond. The absence of the Oromo voice from this global forum for so many years demonstrates that we are not fulfilling our national obligations. We cannot continue to blame our enemies forever for our disconnection from the world. In fact, the sad thing is the Tigre government and its puppet organization, the so-called Oromo People’s Democratic Organization, are trying to organize the Oromo Diaspora to fight against the Oromo national movement. The nation that fights against itself cannot liberate itself.
Our workshop attracted individuals from Ghana, Switzerland, Italy, Burundi, Afar (Djibouti), France and other countries; these participants criticized Oromo activists for not building regional and global alliances with progressive forces. Peter Niggli, one of the participants from Switzerland and a long time friend of the Oromo, stated that he was aware that the Tigre government is engaging in land grabbing by evicting the Oromo and other peoples. But he then noted that if the Oromo only focus on their own struggle, they will miss opportunities to engage with and connect with fellow African societies facing similar crises. He suggested that, if the Oromo movement establishes solidarity with anti-land grabbing movements, it can more easily expose the criminal activities of the Tigre regime.
A participant from Ghana who was once in Finfinnee and had never heard about the Oromo before he met us in Tunis advised us that we must vigorously teach other peoples about the Oromo and create solidarity groups for the Oromo struggle. He mentioned that Palestinians and Western Sahara have created solidarity groups in Ghana. He promised us that he would participate in an effort to create an Oromo solidarity group in Ghana. A gentleman from Afar emphasized the responsibility of the Oromo people in the Horn of Africa because of their numerical strength, economic resources and their geographical location. He also mentioned that the Oromo should not use distorted ideologies of “socialism” and “democracy” as the Tigre elite has done to brutalize, dominate and exploit other peoples. He asserted that the Oromo should not only focus on themselves and should build alliances with various peoples in the Horn of Africa on genuine principles of self-determination and multinational democracy.
The World Social Forum was first held in 2001 in Brazil as an annual meeting of global civil societies interested in developing an alternative future to neo-liberal globalization. They brought together nongovernmental organizations and social movements around the world to create international solidarity and to struggle for global social justice. Today, this forum still strives to create global solidarity amongst progressive social forces pushing for a democratic and fair world.
We recommend that the Oromo national movement in general, and OSA in particular, begin to actively participate in this global forum and in other global opportunities. OSA should send large numbers of delegates to introduce the Oromo people to the world community, thereby creating global solidarity for the Oromo struggle for national self-determination, sovereignty and democracy.
Prof. Asafa Jalata and Aad. Zeituna Kalil are members of the Oromo Studies Association (OSA).
Additional information: http://gadaa.net/FinfinneTribune/2015/04/research-on-oromo-students-protest-movement-presented-by-osa-members-prof-asafa-jalata-aad-zeituna-kalil-at-world-social-forum-in-tunisia/