Monthly Archives: February 2017

Prosecutors Bring Multiple Criminal Charges Against Oromo Opposition

(A4O, Finfinne, 24 February 2017) Ethiopian TPLF regime’s prosecutors have brought multiple criminal charges against prominent Oromo opposition leader Dr. Merera Gudina, Chairman of the opposition Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC). Criminal charges include an attempt to violently overthrow the constitutional order.

Multiple Criminal Charges Against Opposition

The 19 pages charge constitutes four separate charges, of which Dr. Merera is indicted in charges number one, three and four.Two other individuals: second defendant Dr.Berhanu Nega, leader of the opposition Patriotic G7, and 3rd defendant Jawar Mohammed, head of OMN Television and a prominent Oromo activist, are also charged in absentia under the same file as Dr. Merera Gudina. But the two only share details of offenses listed in the first of the four separate charges in the same file.

Accordingly, the first charge against Dr. Merera and the two co-defendants accuses all the three of breaching Ethiopia’s criminal code article 32/1/a & b, article 27/1, and article 238/1& 2 that deals with constitutional order. Accordingly, it accuses them of being leaders and major instigators of the yearlong public protest that rocked Ethiopia prior to the declaration of the current state of emergency in Oct. 2016.  It also details that the trios were involved in “creating pressure against the government” “threatening society through the means of violence” and attempting to “disrupt constitutional order.” Reacting to the news that he was formally charged with terrorism, Jawar Mohammed tweeted: “TPLF has finally put on its honor roll by charging me at its kangaroo court.”

The second charge in the same file is brought against two media institutions: OMN and ESAT, both foreign-based television stations. But besides the criminal charges of contravening articles 32/1/a as well as 38 & 34/1 by attempting to violently overthrow the constitutional order, both institutions are also charged with article 5/1/b of Ethiopia’s infamous Anti-Terrorism Proclamation (ATP) 652/01. The media institutions are accused of fueling the recent protests by serving as a communication tool for terrorist organizations such as Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) and Patriotic G7, both outlawed by Ethiopia’s ruling party dominated parliament.

The third and the fourth criminal charges are brought against Dr. Merera only, leaving him to defend three of the four charges in his file name.

The third charge accuses him of violating article 12/1 of the current state of emergency, which made any contact with individuals that the government designated as terrorists a crime. By this, the charge refers to Dr. Merera meeting and discussing with Dr. Berhanu Nega of PG7 during his trip to Europe shortly before his arrest.

And the fourth criminal charge accuses him of contravening article 486/b and giving a false and damaging statement about the government to a media. The charge specifically mentions a radio interview Dr. Merera gave to the VOA, (not mentioned if it was the VOA Amharic or Afaan Oromo), in which Dr. Merera disputed government’s claims that it had foiled a terror plot in Addis Abeba during a world cup qualifier match between Ethiopia and Nigeria in Dec. 2013.

Dr. Merera Gudina was due to appear at the federal high court Arada branch today, but a notice put in the court premise says all court hearings between February 21 and 24 will not take place due to trainings judges and all court staffs are taking. Addis Standard learned that Dr. Merea Gudina will remain at Ma’ekelawi, a notorious prison in the heart of Addis Abeba, until next hearing which is set on March 3rd.

The charges against Dr. Merera and the two individuals are punishable by up to ten years in jail and do not prohibit the accused from having the right to bail.

Throughout the last three months, the government maintained  Dr. Merera was only detained under the six-month state of emergency.

Dr. Merera was detained upon arrival in Addis Abeba after finishing a tour to several European countries for more than three weeks.

During his tour Dr. Merera delivered a speech to members of the European Union Parliament on current political crisis and human rights violations in Ethiopia. Dr. Merera was joined by two other prominent invitees: Dr. Berhanu Nega, and athlete Feyisa Lilessa, Olympic silver medalist who gave a significant impetus to a year-long Oromo protest that gripped Ethiopia when he crossed his arms in an X sign at the finishing line. (The three are seen in the picture above.)

The latest charges against Dr. Merera show that his party, OFC, is at the forefront of losing its leaders to prison. Currently, several members of the party, including Bekele Gerba and Dejene Fita Geleta, first secretary general and secretary general respectively are facing terrorism charges. Of the 22 defendants in this file, majority are OFC rank and file members.

Bekele Gerba was arrested for the second time since 2011, during which he was sentenced to eight years in prison suspected of allegedly belonging to the banned Oromo Liberation Front (OLF). Bekele spent almost four of the eight years before he was freed in April 2015 only to be re-arrested in Nov. 2015 following a wave of protests by the Oromo.

The other notable Oromo opposition figure serving eight years prison term is Olbana Lelisa, who was arrested along with Bekele Gerba in 2011. Olbana was a high-ranking leader of the Oromo People’s Congress Party (OPC), which has since merged with the Oromo Federal Democratic Movement (OFDM) to form OFC, which is led by Dr. Merera.

*Reported by Mahlet Fasil of (Addis Standard)

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Tales of Resilience: Oromo Cultural Showcase Promo

Former refugee an advocate for education

(Advocacy4oromia, 19 February 2017) Dammee Sero has come a long way, from a refugee camp in Kenya to be an award-winning student at Laurier Brantford.

Dammee Sero

Dammee Sero

Dammee, who is originally from Ethiopia, received a World University Service of Canada scholarship to study in Canada at Laurier. Students living in refugee camps can apply to the WUSC Student Refugee Program for a scholarship, with the funding donated by students at Canadian universities. Universities sponsor a student refugee.

The 25-year-old has been selected as a 2017 Education Champion by the Education WORKS Alliance, after being nominated by Fanshawe College.

Dammee, who is studying Human Rights & Human Diversity at Laurier, is an outspoken advocate for the power and importance of education.
“My motivation comes from the love I have for education, the encouragement and recognition I received,” says Dammee, who used to walk for more than an hour to attend school in Africa. “And, also, to make sure that my mom’s sacrifice wasn’t in vain.”

Dammee’s mother fled Ethiopia with her children in 2001, leaving to escape political persecution of their ethnic Oromo people – a persecution that still continues. Dammee’s father was a teacher and was jailed several times.

Dammee praises her mother, who passed away in 2015, for her caring and compassion, and wanting the best for her children.
The Laurier student moved with her family to the Kakuma refugee camp in 2002 when she was 10.

This past year, Dammee was one of 10 students in Canada to receive the 3M National Student Fellowship Award, which is given to college or university students who display outstanding leadership.

Having to leave Ethiopia and having lived in a refugee camp for 10 years, Dammee is very aware of what it means to lose something.
“Learning is the only thing that can never be taken away from you, and learning expands your horizon. It is amazing to see how it can turn your life around for the better,” she says. “So go for it. Learn and learn whenever you can. It is the best decision.”

Dammee has finished her BA at Laurier and will officially graduate this June. She is working part time as a research assistant on a project related to the wellbeing of women and girls. Future plans include doing a Master’s degree and attending law school.

Canada is now Dammee’s home and she plans to build a life here, though she can see herself returning to Africa to work on specific projects on a temporary basis.https://legacy.wlu.ca/homepage.php?grp_id=37

Source: http://www.simcoereformer.ca/2017/02/14/former-refugee-an-advocate-for-education?utm_source=addThis&utm_medium=addthis_button_facebook&utm_campaign=Former+refugee+an+advocate+for+education+%7C+Simcoe+Reformer#.WKkB4P-nVEh.facebook

Oromia Risk: Oromia violence likely to increase local militancy

(Advocacy4Oromia, 18 February 2017) Oromia violence involving Ethiopia’s Somali region police likely to increase local anti-government militancy, attacks on commercial projects.

Several members of Ethiopia’s Somali region’s Liyu special police were reportedly killed by armed locals on 14 February in Gursum district, Oromia region, allegedly in response to recent raids into the area by these security forces, according to Ethiopian opposition media. Locals also seized unspecified amounts of police ammunition and weapons during the violence.

Earlier in February, both an Oromia government official and an Oromo opposition party had claimed Somali regional police involvement in recent cattle raids, looting, and killings in Oromia’s East Haraghe (which includes Gursum), Bale, Guji, and Borena zones.

Complicity by the Ethiopian government, dominated by its Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) wing, in these raids would most likely be part of a strategy designed to prevent the formation of a cross-ethnic domestic opposition and marginalise the ethnic-Oromo opposition ahead of the scheduled end of the state of emergency in April.

Source: http://www.janes.com/article/67821/oromia-violence-involving-ethiopia-s-somali-region-police-likely-to-increase-local-anti-government-militancy-attacks-on-commercial-projects

FOR YOUTH, BY YOUTH

By Jitu D Wakjira

oyaa

#OYA Australia’s event -Photo By Toltu Tufa

January 21st, the Oromo Youth Association in Australia held their first of hopefully many to come culture nights, where Oromo youth from all sides of Melbourne showed up to watch other Oromo youth showcase the Oromo culture. They accentuated the numerous ways Oromo people best present their Oromummaa, through musical performances by Melbourne’s own Oromo youth musician, dances that demonstrated the versatility of the Oromo culture both by children and older youth who were eager to perform, fashion shows that showed the diversity in the aesthetics aspect of the Oromo culture, spoken poetry- a vice primarily used in our culture to deliver stories with important messages, and thought-provoking speeches that exemplified the importance of solidarity in the struggle towards Oromo freedom. The culture night was simply overfilled with volunteering youth eager to bring the culture to the stage, and audiences eager to watch as their beautiful culture gets its well deserved place under the spotlight.

Youth Associations are nothing new to the Oromo community in the diaspora. They’re global, and they are all there for the similar purpose of providing a platform for Oromo Youth, especially those who feel disconnected from the culture, to have a platform where they can immerse themselves into their culture and heritage, and develop a better understanding and appreciating of what their culture has to offer.

The reestablishment of a youth association in Melbourne means that there is a vice for Oromo Youth to teach and be taught the fundamentals of their culture. It enables for the building of a stronger community through allowing there to be a platform where all Oromo youth are welcome to freely embody their Oromummaa. Youth have always been catalysts for change in every revolution throughout history, and ours are no different. The Youth Association is filled with like-minded yet diverse youth who not only are determined to bare witness to the inevitable Oromo revolution, but also to be integral parts of the journey towards a life free of repression; and through OYAA, they have the opportunity to work as a collective to bring forth whatever knowledge and expertise they possess to represent their people proudly, help raise awareness for the happening back our homeland, and project the voices of the Oromo people in the homeland in the diaspora.

img_5812 OYAA also creates opportunities for leadership. For Oromo youth like me who haven’t had the pleasure of being in Australia during the existence of the previous OYAA, we never had the opportunity to be part of a community for youth by youth that allows there to be opportunities of leadership. The OYAA team have taken on roles not only as representatives of the Oromo Youth to the wider Oromo community, but also as leaders of the community, setting precedence for future youth wishing to take on leadership roles. The OYAA team’s leadership and initiative was one of the key devices behind the culture night’s success.

Personally, my favorite part of the OYAA culture night wasn’t the dancing or singing or poetry, it was that I had the opportunity to meet so many new and amazing Oromo Youth from all corners of Melbourne that I would have never gotten the chance to meet. The night allowed me to see how vast we really are, and despite being spread out throughout the city, we were always willing to go the extra mile for our culture and our community. That was my favorite part.

img_5837Through the OYAA team’s initiative, they have already created a support system where not only do we support youth in Australia, but also the Oromo people back home. The power of the Oromo Youth in Australia has already been demonstrated through the numerous video campaigns, lobbying and protests organized with the aid of the youth (without OYAA); so imagine what we can do as an organized unit! We all have the understanding that it is our obligation to amplify the voices of the Oromo protesters back in the homeland, and OYAA provides the platform the ensure that the voices of the people do not go unheard Through the sense of collectivity, OYAA has solidified in our minds that we all have the ability to create and encourage means to advance our people towards a prosperous and free future.

OYAA has created and is creating a space where we can celebrate, encourage and immerse ourselves within our culture, and use each other’s individual skills and knowledge to have a better understanding of what it means to be Oromo, and to use our collective power to bring our people one step closer to freedom.