Make an End to Ethiopia’s State Terror
An Urgent National Call
Gurmuu Hayyoota Oromoo – Oromo Intellectual’s Society (GHO-OIS), after due deliberation on the current situation in Oromia and Ethiopia, particularly on the ongoing state terror and ethnic genocide directed at the Oromo Nation, makes the following calls upon all Oromos and friends of Oromo National Cause as a matter of urgency.
At the present, the clique that wields state power in the name of the so called “Prosperity Party” in Ethiopia, has deployed all armed forces at its disposal (including foreign forces) and is committing indiscriminate mass killings and systematic genocide against the Oromo people.
The ruling party in Ethiopia has declared a systematic war against the Oromo people to eradicate Oromumma (Oromoness) and the Oromo as a nation, in a bid to renew the imperial policy of creating a unitary state under Amhara political, cultural and economic hegemony. It deployed the Ethiopian National Defence Forces, Special Forces of Oromia, Amhara, Somali and other regional states, the Amhara organized bandits called “Fanno” and units of the Eritrean military ostensibly to wipe out the Oromo Liberation Army (OLA). These forces are rather killing Oromo civilians indiscriminately and with utmost brutality, looting and plundering private properties and burning down whole villages and farms like an invading foreign army of bygone times.
Although many regimes of different political makeup have risen and fallen in Ethiopia since its creation as a colonizing imperial state by king Minilik of Abyssinia, each successive regime failed to resolve its foundational predicament and thus continued on a path of repression and suppression of the quest of the colonized nations and nationalities for freedom and equality with increasingly systematic vigour and brutality. The current war of the ruling elite under the so called “Prosperity Party” against almost all the peoples of Ethiopia in general, and Tigray and Oromia in particular, is a continuation of this political culture and a clear testimony that repeated endeavours to transform the empire has unquestionably failed once again, proving that this empire can’t be democratized.
Clearly, the current ruling clique, continuing repressive and suppressive methods of the past in a more vicious manner, is conducting not only systematic ethnic and cultural genocide but also demonstrated acts of fascism against the people it is supposed to govern.
The only option left for the Oromo nation to free itself from 150 years of cyclic repression, exploitation, war and humanly suffering, and particularly to save itself from the current wholesale killings and total war of genocide, is consequently intensifying its current armed struggle led by the Oromo Liberation Army (OLA) to make an end to Ethiopia’s colonial occupation of Oromia.
Noting that saving the Oromo people from armed violence, state terror and mass murder now engulfing the whole of Oromia is the historic burden and responsibility bearing upon the current generation of Oromo sons and daughters;
Bearing in mind that the only option to end the vicious cycle of colonial repression and war of exterminating the Oromo as a nation is for Oromos from all walks of life to set aside minor political differences, and unite and bundle our human, material and intellectual resources to liberate our Nation from the yoke of colonial subjugation;
GHO/OIS calls upon all Oromians to rise in unity to discharge the historic responsibility we bear in common to liberate the Oromo, the last great nation that is still languishing under colonial yoke in the 21st century.•
I. Root of the Problem: Continuation of Colonial Rule
The Oromo is a great nation that counts the Horn of Africa as its origin and the cradle of its egalitarian Gadaa system and civilization. The Gadaa system is the epitome of equality and democracy, which has served as the administrative, cultural and psychological basis of the Oromo people for thousands of years.
However, through the invasion of kings Yohannes IV and Minilik II of Abyssinia starting in the 1870’s, the whole of Oromia was conquered and became part of the present Ethiopian empire. As a colonial subject, the Oromo nation has been subjected to abhorent repression, systematic exploitation of its human and material resources, and cultural genocide through prevarication of its history and attempted eradication of its language and culture. These colonial repressions aimed at cultural and ethnic genocide are being conducted by the current fascist regime in Ethiopia in a more systematic and vicious manner.
The aim of a colonizer is not only to occupy the invaded land, dispossess the indigenous people of their material wealth and labor produces and destroy their culture and identity, but also to eliminate the elites of the conquered people to root out potential leaders of resistance against the alien rule. Through such a brutal policy, the colonizer denies the subject nation of its own elites that could keep its history, culture and language for next generations, thereby leading to the eradication of cultures and languages of colonized peoples.
History of the Oromo nation under the subjugation of the Ethiopian empire bears witness to such extensive colonial repressions:
a. During the invasion by kings Yohannes and Minilik of Abyssinia, millions of people in Oromia and the current Ethiopia’s South were killed in wars of resistance or were rounded up and sold into slavery. Million others perished as a consequence of famine that followed an intentional spread of cattle plague. Historical documents show that the population of Oromia was reduced by half and some other smaller ethnics were brought to the brink of extinction. The land of the indigenous peoples was carved up among the invading army of Minilik and the natives who survived the devastation were made “Gabbar” – a brutal form of slavery – in which wholes families were made to toil their ancestral lands to feed and serve families of the new colonizers. The Ethiopian Orthodox Church also got its share of the booty according to its ancient pact with Abyssinian kings.
b. Emperor Haile-Silassie‘s regime, not only intensified the Gabbar system, but also embarked on the project of ‘modernizing’ his empire, in which all other languages except Amharic were banned from use in schools and public institutions. Orthodox Christianity and the Amharic language and culture were promoted as ‘national’ religion and culture, whereas all others languages and cultures were banned to gradually wither away. The aim was to amharanize (convert to Amhara) all the subjugated peoples into a one language – one culture – one religion unitary state.
c. The Dergue communist military dictatorship that ousted Haile-Silassie, in a bid to pacify the central ‘Land to the tiller’ demand of student movements against the Gabbar system, first declared all land in Ethiopia to be government property. It then exacted more onerous dues and services from the peasantry than before. To better control the rural population from supporting the various liberation fronts fighting against it, the regime embarked on Stalinist collectivization of peasants into villages. For additional control, the regime also settled northern farmers in the South and among the Oromo. Through consequent starvation and government killings in the name of fighting the rebels, millions of civilians lost their lives. In a vicious move, the regime also destroyed many Oromo religious centers and irreplaceable cultural artefacts.
d. After the Dergue was overthrown through the armed struggle of the Oromo and other rebel groups in 1991, an experiment at a system of ethnic federation began, in which the current borders of Oromia were demarcated and Afaan Oromo became the official language in Oromia. However, the TPLF from Tigray, which militarily monopolized state power, reduced the federal arrangement to the status of Haile-Silassie’s governorate generals, and similarly ruled from the centre through satellite organizations it created in the name of the various nations and nationalities in the empire. Oromia and other regions were more systematically looted and exploited to build Tigray and enrich Tigrayans. Evicting Oromo farmers at gun point, their farms were sold to the so-called investors and lands around cities especially around Finfinnee were carved up among the new Tigrayan rich and their lackeys to build villas and high rise buildings. Those who protested against these brazen dispossessions and consequent wiping out of innumerable Oromo farmer families were declared as terrorists and were either arrested, tortured and killed or were forced to flee the country.
e. After the TPLF was forced to vacate its dominant position in the ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) coalition mainly through the Oromo Qeerroo/Qarree movement and public uprising, the group led by Abiy Ahmed disbanded the former EPRDF coalition and leaving out the TPLF but co-opting other former satellite organizations, organized itself as the „Prosperity Party“ (PP). This party, without meeting the requirements for a political party under the country’s laws and as a new party without popular or any other legal mandate, grabbed state power and continued to rule the country. To consolidate its authoritarianism and to thwart any future contestation against its dictatorial rule, it declared war on parties and groups demanding more plural politics and cultural & political autonomy for their respective ethnics.
In general, although Ethiopia has seen despots and dictators of varying political tints and tones – from emperors to communists to „revolutionary democrats“ ala TPLF – one thing remained unchanged: the colonial nature of the empire, the suppression, repression and wars necessary to maintain it, and the consequent widespread human rights violations and human misery that is still ongoing in more brutal and vicious manner.
II. The Currently Ongoing Genocide
As stated above, the present ruling Prosperity Party clique took over state power without any formal mandate required of it as a new political party and without even meeting requirements under the country’s laws governing political parties. To maintain state power it usurped, it reverted to massively harass, intimidate and imprison its political opponents. After disenfranchising many opposition parties and mass arrest of members and supporters of the two main Oromo political parties, the OLF and OFC in particular, PP declared itself the winner of an election it planned, conducted and competed in alone.
To hang onto power uncontested for the foreseeable future, the clique furthermore,
a) co-opted remnants of the former communist junta and the terrorist EPRP group;
b) allied with extremist and expansionist Amhara nationalists who are striving to re-establish Amhara hegemony of Minilik II’s colonial era;
c) invited foreign armies especially that of Eritrea and other alien forces that are eager for land grab and other plunder;
and started a destructive war against political bodies that are striving for genuine democracy and the fundamental rights of nations and nationalities in the country.
Colonel Abiy Ahmed, head of the ruling party, taking Isayas Afawarqi of Eritrea as role model, mentor and supporter, aims to exterminate any political opposition for good and remain the uncontested strong man of Ethiopia. To this end, his regime tramples upon the country‘s laws and constitution and, in contravention of international conventions and norms, is committing widespread human rights violations, war crimes and crimes against humanity. The regime’s armed and security forces and regional militia forces are currently laying waste parts of Oromia and Benishangul-Gumuz, worse than they did in Tigray earlier.
The regime in Oromia particularly,
• arrested en masse leaders, members and supporters of the OLF and the OFC, the two main Oromo political parties, and holds them under criminally abominable conditions;
• hunts down and kills conscious Oromos extra-judicially and throws them into the bush for the wild beasts to devour;
• deployed the country’s national defence forces supported by fighter drones, helicopters and fighter jets, its security apparatus, police and militia forces of Oromia and neighbouring regions as well as units of Eritrean defence forces, which are currently conducting civilian massacre, burning of Oromo homesteads and whole villages, and mass eviction;
• and is openly committing war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide.
A ruling clique, however authoritarian it may be, won’t willingly surrender sovereignty of its country and become servile to a foreign entity. The group currently ruling Oromia in the name of OPDO/PP was basically doing that from the start. It is indeed organized and steered by foreign forces for the sole purpose of suppressing and repressing the Oromo people to enable these aliens exploit and plunder the resources of Oromia. In line with the crimes it was committing in the service of the TPLF for over 27 years pre 2018, the former OPDO (now PP) recently, for example, gave large sums out of Oromia‘s budget to Amhara and other regions as a gift or bribe and invited militia and special forces of these regions to invade Oromia.
Following the motto of “drying out the sea to kill the fish”, as suggested by one party member on a session of PP’s Oromia parliament, to defeat the Oromo Liberation Army, the ruling clique officially gave the army and militia forces a free reign to conduct indiscriminate massacre of civilians, burning of homes and vicious destruction of properties.
In addition, though posturing as an Oromo regime ruling Ethiopia, the clique massacres Oromos and, in collaboration with avowed anti-Oromo elements in the country and abroad, falsely reports it as if Oromos murdered Amharas, simply to present the Oromo people as monsters in the eyes of the international community. The group calling itself OPDO (now PP) has thus proved to be more anti-Oromo than the worst enemy the Oromo people ever had.
All in all, the current regime is committing boundless crimes and fascism to eliminate Oromo nationalists and to eradicate the Oromo as a nation. The ultimate goal of Prosperity Party’s war against the people is to dismantle the current multi-ethnic federal arrangement and reinstitute the old colonial system of forced Amharanization, slavery and deprivation.
The result we see today is extensive destruction, civil war and economic collapse and possible disintegration of the empire altogether.
III. National Duty as an Oromo
History of the Ethiopian Empire, especially that of the last 60 years teaches us that, though many ideologues have exchanged hands to rule the empire, at least three attempts at democratizing it proved unsuccessful. Years of endeavour to transform Ethiopia into a modern state, where all nations, nationalities and peoples in its borders have equal rights and obligations, and where individual and group rights are respected, failed to bear fruit because of its foundation as a colonial empire that remained unchanged. It proved that an empire cannot be reformed and democratized, especially in the face of Habesha resistance to modernization and democratization.
What should be done then?
Recognizing that transforming the Ethiopian empire into a democratic state proved to be unachievable, the only option left to bring about a lasting solution of setting an end to the vicious cycle of repression, war and destruction and cutting short the era of destitution and tribulation of our people, is to intensify our national liberation struggle and consummate the right of our nation to self-determination.
The present dictatorial regime in Ethiopia is making a last ditch attempt to re-establish Ethiopia under Habesha /Amhara hegemony by reversing the few rights Oromos won through the bitter sacrifices of millions of our compatriots. To this end, the regime is conducting mass murder and eviction of Oromos from their ancestral homes, a fascistic act targeting the Oromo as a people.
Our silence and disconcert at this moment of distress of our people would later cost us all dearly and won’t save us from the judgement of history. Therefore, getting organized and organizing our people to stand up together to thwart the war of extermination targeted against the Oromo nation has become the burning issue requiring immediate response from us all children of Oromia.
After repeated attempts at dismantling colonial settings to bring peace, equality and democracy to all peoples in Ethiopia have proven futile within the confines of empire, it is naive to believe that peaceful political means would lead to attainment of liberty and self-rule especially when the ruling elite is determined to quash Oromo Quest for freedom and equality through means of brute force. Recognizing that this would only confuse and demoralize our people, it is our national duty and patriotic obligation to provide due moral, material and intellectual support to our people’s armed struggle spearheaded by OLA.
IV. Let’s Bring Oromo National Liberation Struggle to its Natural Conclusion:
Whereas the Oromo people have been continuously subjected to inhuman treatments, barbarous repression, mass evictions, exploitation and plunder as the colonial policy of the Ethiopia empire for the last 150 years;
whereas many regimes of various political colour have exchanged hands in ruling Ethiopia, and that none have addressed the root cause of the incessant political turmoil in the empire, namely its colonial foundation and continued existence as such, but rather intensified colonial repression at every turn;
whereas the current ruling clique, in a scorched earth policy tries not only to suppress the Oromo Quest for freedom and equality but also to eradicate the Oromo as a nation altogether, is thus committing abhorrent human rights violations, war crimes and crimes against humanity;
whereas liberty of the individual and freedom of every nation from alien rule are inalienable rights enshrined in UN Declaration of Human Rights, that every nation reserves the right to use any means at its disposal to regain and protect these rights and the right to self-determination;
whereas the Oromo is the last big nation still languishing under the anachronistic colonial subjugation in the 21st century, that it is imperative to close this dark chapter of African history;
To set an end to the era of brutal repression, colonial exploitation, slavery and human misery under Ethiopian colonial rule, the Oromo people have been left with a single option, namely to intensify the ongoing armed struggle led by Oromo Liberation Army (OLA) and bring it to its natural conclusion of establishing an independent Democratic Republic of Oromia.
Let’s rise up in unison to realize it!
V. A National Call of Oromumma
that democratization of the Ethiopian empire proved to be a futile undertaking, and any further attempt to reform it would only prolong the suffering of the peoples in the empire, thus to quicken its demise;
that members of the OPDO/PP, while speaking Afaan Oromo and claiming to be Oromo, are from the outset committing all the atrocities in Oromia as henchmen of alien rule, so the organization proving itself to be the worst enemy of the Oromo people, and thus must be uprooted;
that providing the Oromo national liberation struggle with financial, intellectual and manpower assistance as to hasten its goal of uprooting colonial subjugation is a national duty that demands immediate response from each and every Oromo;
1) we call upon all Oromo civic, professional and political organizations to leave minor differences aside and forge strategic alliances to foil the ethnic and cultural genocide targeted against the Oromo as a nation and lead it out of the hitherto brutal colonial bondage.
2) we call upon all Oromo sons and daughters all over the world to heed the distress call of our people and rise in unison to save our nation from the barbaric atrocities and eventual annihilation targeted against it by builders and maintainers of the colonial empire of Ethiopia. We call upon Oromo intellectuals, specifically those who tried (and still try) in vain to democratize Ethiopia and in doing so only helped maintain the vicious cycle of tyranny, war and human suffering, as the last 60 years history of Ethiopia bears witness, to invest their time and resources instead to find a lasting solution, namely the realization of the right of nations and nationalities in the empire to self-determination.
3) Given the fact that the OPDO/PP proved to be the worst enemy that from the outset made as its stated duty the repression and subjugation of the Oromo people to subdue them to alien rule, and is currently conducting state terror to annihilate the Oromo, we call upon all Oromos serving this regime in any capacity to distance themselves from the body massacring their brethren. Continuing to serve this fascist regime would undoubtedly leave an indelible mark of shame on themselves and their descendants.
That the only option left to the Oromo Nation to free itself from more than a century of state terror and humanly suffering is to fight for the establishment of the free state of Oromia;
That the stated goal of the Oromo National liberation struggle is reinstating Oromo people’s cultural and political sovereignty and Oromia’s righteous place among the free nations of the world by ending the state of colonial subjugation and exploitation;
We extend our national call to all Oromo sons and daughters to rise hand in hand for this dignified and noble cause.
Victory to the Oromo people!
Oromia shall be free!