Monthly Archives: February 2016
(Advocacy for Oromia) Dr Tsegaye Ararssa at Oromia Insight with Aliye Geleto talks about Oromo and Ethiopia.
This is an account of a small part of what’s been going on in West Arsi of Oromia last week. It’s very limited as I was unable to spend more than one morning in the area. On Wednesday in Bulbula, which is south of Ziway around 100 kilometers north of Shashamene, there was a vandalized Coca Cola truck and a torched tanker. There were also Derba Cement bags and smashed glass in a couple of places on the road, suggesting that was where the company’s trucks had been attacked. As with several places where there’d been protests, there wasn’t a heavy visible security presence, and most regular activity had resumed in the town. As we drove south, a Federal Police truck and pick-ups, followed by armed Oromia police, whizzed north in what looked like an emergency response.
On Wednesday night, part of Langano Lodge was burned to the ground. A couple of people in the area said the culprits were disgruntled locals. For example, a middle-aged guard said the resort was known for employing people from outside the area. Others, like Sabana Beach Resort, had a good reputation with residents, he said. As with other claims, I didn’t have a chance to verify these allegations.
Early on Friday morning, Shashamene appeared normal. It wasn’t hard to find people aware of what had been going on. One lady focused on how the Oromo protests in the area had caused problems for other groups, especially the Wolayta. That turned out to be a minority stance with everyone else emphasizing justified Oromo opposition to the government as the fundamental issue.
As widely reported, the protests in the area started in Aje a week before after police told a wedding party to stop playing a resistance song and the request was rejected. That led to a violent confrontation with civilians and police dying, although it wasn’t clear exactly what happened from the accounts I received. One guy reported that an Oromo Federal Police officer had objected to the security response and shot dead some of his colleagues. From there the discontent spread.
There had been a fracas around Shashamene bus station during the week. It sounded like primarily Oromo and Wolayta had clashed and the police had broken it up by firing in the air. There was no consensus on fatalities and casualties. Rumors abounded, with someone saying 60 houses had been burned down, and others saying that was a lie. It seemed there’d been a fight and police had quickly broken it up, partly by firing in the air. One account said a Tigrayan guy was arrested after he pulled a gun and challenged people to attack him.
On the road to Kofale, which is 27 kilometers east of Shashamene, there was evidence of roadblocks in many places. Most had been created by chopping down large Eucalyptus trees and laying them across the road. One area was covered with large boulders and a fertilizer store had been ransacked. It was apparent that plenty of communities and people had been involved in these acts of resistance.
One guy said in a matter-of-fact manner that during the unrest Amhara farmers had been intimidated to leave the area. But almost all interviewees – none of whom were youthful firebrands — stressed that if there were clashes between ethnic groups, they should be treated as a minor diversion, and were not the cause of the discontent. Perhaps even more so than in West Shoa a couple of months ago, people were clear that the underlying cause was a desire for a change in government. No longer would Oromo youth accept being ruled by Woyane, a man said. People didn’t want to be ruled by a dead man’s system, another said. A few refused to give their views, but no one spoke up in defense of the government. One guy said his land had been taken for water facilities and that there was too much tax on everything. A few spoke about a corrupted government that acts only in its interest and not the people’s.
On top of the underlying desire for political change, people also highlighted recent injustices with students killed and arbitrarily detained, and educated leaders arrested, as a major reason for ongoing resistance. One guy repeatedly said that protesters wanted to know where the authorities had taken their children. Nobody thought the situation was going to be resolved anytime soon.
It was said that 7 or 12 people had died in Kofale on Thursday, which was the only place to have a few (non-red beret) soldiers stationed visibly on its streets. There wasn’t much other obvious presence of security forces aside from one pick-up full of Federal Police that turned off the main road into a village.
More people had died further east in Dodola, including a friend of someone I spoke to. He said the guy, who didn’t know anything about politics, was taken at night by police and found dead in the morning.
Only the one lady in Shashamene referred to the alleged burning of churches. Everybody else responded that they hadn’t heard anything, or that it was a deliberate lie.
Despite the unrest, mini bus drivers and traders were traveling up and down the road as usual. There were also plenty of people around on the streets going about routine tasks. In a few places, pragmatic residents had started chopping up the trunks that had been used to block the road. Rather than a state of emergency, it felt more like active opposition to the government and the accompanying insecurity had become the new normal.
On the way back north, shortly before Arsi Negele, where it was market day, a few drivers panicked and turned around, presumably because they heard there was trouble ahead. The quickest to do U-turns were a couple of Dangote Cement truck drivers, but they needn’t had bothered, as it turned out to be a false alarm.
By: Najat Hamza
There have been fragmented arguments aimed at individuals or Oromos in general from certain groups. I am not writing to comment, negate or affirm any point of view as it is right now, however I would want these framed in a way that makes sense and that could yield results for both sides. We have to lay some ground work or background before we can discuss the points of contentions. Fist, when we talk about the Oromo People there is no doubt there has been tremendous historical injustice done to them, these historical injustices cannot be ignored, erased or denied. One can ask how can we address historical injustices that happened generations ago? Why should we even attempt to address it? The answer is simple, the future depends on it! The other argument is this generation has nothing to do with that injustice and why should we be held accountable?
There are no magical methods, words or deeds that could address historical injustice but we can try by using the concept of restorative justice. Restorative justice has been used as a mechanism to help heal great historical injustices in various indigenous communities and a single acts like genocide and holocaust a like.
“…applying restorative justice practices and principles could maximize justice for indigenous people by first, refocusing indigenous land claim, on the restoration of tribal respect and dignity rather than the restoration of property rights, second, acknowledging the wider social relationship in which such conflicts arise”
(Contemporary Justice Review, 2009)
So, when we speak of “Oromian tan Oromo ti” it is not about the restoration of property ownership for our land, rather the restoration of our dignity and respect we lost when we have lost our home, our sense of being. We have to look at the inter-generational justice (Justice over time) as an answer to those who would deny the historic injustices of their forefathers. This concept explains both sides of the story. We all know and understand the gain of historic injustice done to the Oromo people, their land and resources are great loses to them but gains to the perpetrators and their offspring. Those gains obtained committing these grave historic injustices transcended form one generation to the next with a sense of entitlement to boot. Thus, the current generation has the obligation to acknowledge this historic injustice and to apologize for the injustice committed as the sole beneficiaries of those injustices. If they cannot reach to this point, it is crucial for them to understand not to re-offend the trauma.
I cannot elaborate on these concepts more here, not it is the correct platform, I am sharing my thought trying to re-frame where the argument should be instead of going back and forth on petty discussions. I am sure there is expert in the fields of justice; law and political science that could get into it form this vantage point. There is no question that they cannot reverse time and undo the historic injustice, nor should they act as if it did not occur. The side that needs to do deep soul searching is those who have benefited from these historical injustices and finding a way to make steps towards healing for the wronged. However, is absurd to expect the Oromo people to explain, to include or participate in the denial of its own scars to appease their perpetrators. It reminds me of the idea that use to be used against women here in the US and still being used in various parts of the word basically accusing a woman who is raped by accusing her of dressing inappropriately. This is the same line of thinking, if Oromo people fights for their right and trying to affirm their rights or be the sole beneficiaries of their own resources, they are called racist! However, committing historical injustices, refusing to acknowledge the wrong and trying to be a road block to their progress is called patriotism, Unity!
We do not fear change, we are fighting for change. We have not targeted anyone and any one else’s resources and we do not need an approval from any entity to accomplish our freedom. It is just in the spirit of good faith and for the sake of justice we ask you to do away with your hate cause it is foreign to us and to what we stand for.
Oromia is the Home of Justice in its pure form!