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THE PRESENT PHASE OF THE OROMO NATIONAL MOVEMENT: CHALLENGES, OPPORTUNITIES, AND ACTION ITEMS

The Oromo Scholars and Professional Group

Realizing the fact that the effort of transitioning the Ethiopian Empire to democracy has been derailed primarily because of the incompetency and ill will of the Abiy Ahmed government, which emerged in 2018 from the EPRDF and later formed the Prosperity Party (PP) to gain political legitimacy without shedding the authoritarian and colonial essence of the former party, the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) issued a declaration on September 13, 2020. In this declaration the front proposed the formation of an inclusive “national” convention in which all political parties and fronts in the empire as stakeholders would participate in developing a political road map, which would be acceptable to a broad majority of them, to avoid the looming state collapse and the possible emergence of an empire-wide conflict and war, and to ensure the transition to a genuine multinational democracy. Furthermore, the OLF invites international bodies such as the United Nations and its Security Council, the United Nations Human Rights Commission, and regional organizations such as the African Union and the European Union to be actively involved in the process of preventing the danger of state collapse and the total breakdown of the empire resulting in unimaginable human tragedy.

More importantly, the front calls upon all citizens of Oromia in general and independent Oromo political organizations, civic institutions, and professional associations in particular, to initiate the process of forming an Oromia transitional government to protect their society from the emerging political and security crises in Oromia and beyond. The Oromo Scholars and Professionals group believes that two major contradictory processes have started to emerge in Ethiopia and Oromia: 1) the decomposition of the Ethiopian colonial system and its institutional infrastructures such as the nafxanya government and other institutions, and 2) the emergence of progressive forces that are determined to establish a true multinational democracy in the context of federation or confederation, which guarantees national self-determination. Consequently, the Oromo Scholars and Professionals Group concurs with the explanations of the OLF and endorses its declaration.

Because of its abundant economic resources and geographical landmass, the size of its population, and the recent development of the Qeerroo/Qarree movement, which has mobilized the entire Oromo nation to fight against injustices and gross human rights violations, Oromia has become the hotspot of the emerging political contestation between the old and dying forces on one hand and the new and energized political and social movements on the other. Despite facing monumental challenges from its external and internal enemies, the Oromo national movement appears to have embarked on the final phase of its journey toward the long sought national self-determination. Particularly, the OLF, which mapped out the ideological and political roadmap of the Oromo nation in the 1970s by introducing an ideological innovation and the knowledge for liberation to Oromo society has challenged the underpinnings of Ethiopianism and nafxanyaa philosophy that have provided the justification for the abuse of Oromo humanity and identity, liberated the minds of millions of Oromos, and mobilized them to struggle for their freedom and liberate their country from Abyssinian/Habasha domination.

Consequently, the flourishing of national Oromummaa (Oromo national history, culture, and nationalism) and the consolidation of Oromo unity as demonstrated by the recent Qeerro/Qarree movement have revealed the potential of Oromo society to bring about fundamental transformations in Oromia, the Ethiopian Empire, and the Horn of Africa. In disapproval and objection to the development of Oromo political consciousness and national Oromummaa, the neo-nafxanya government of Abiy Ahmed and all external and internal enemies of the Oromo national struggle are currently attacking Oromo nationalists in general and independent Oromo political organizations such as the OLF and the Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC) and their key leaders, members and sympathizers in particular in order to deny the people the institutional and organizational capacity, which is absolutely necessary to empower the Oromo nation. The main objectives of the neo-nafxanayaa government and its collaborators are to continue disempowering the Oromo people by dispossessing their lands and other resources and by keeping them in the status of colonial subjects, who are disorganized and easily terrorized and dominated.

The recent ideological and intellectual victories of the Oromo national movement have disturbed the neo-nafxanyaas and their government. They are worried that they cannot successfully implement their grand plans for dismantling Oromia and Oromo nationhood/peoplehood. Their strategies are to fragment the Oromo nation into local and religious identities, partition Oromia again into colonial administrative regions, reimpose Habasha/Amhara culture and language, and to continue looting Oromia resources. The OLF and OFC have become the main obstacles to these grand schemes while some Oromo organizations and former politicians/activists are willingly becoming the agents of the neo-nafxanyaa government to satisfy their personal interests at the expense of the Oromo nation. Currently, Abiy and his government are trying to dismantle the independent leaderships of OLF and OFC and replace them by a subservient leadership that will be commanded by the neo-nafxanyaa government. They do this to continue Habasha/Amhara hegemony and to securely institutionalize Ethiopian settler colonialism and its nafxanyaa system.

In its attempt to destroy or diminish the Oromo national movement and its organizational infrastructures, Abiy and his government have developed and used four main political and ideological schemes.

  1. Using the carrot and stick strategy, the Abiy government has corrupted and incorporated some Oromo political activists/politicians, who were members of the now defunct Oromo Democratic Front, as well as some of the leaders of the so-called OLF-United, using them in the struggle against Oromo independent political and civic organizations and Oromo society.
  2. Claiming the rise of Oromo Liberation Army (OLA) as a pretext, it has mobilized politically naive and/or Oromo opportunists and subservient organizations to ideologically attack the OLF and the OLA, justifying the establishment of a brutal military rule under command posts in many regions of Oromia.
  3. While cementing his political relationship with his nafxanyaa brethren, Abiy has defamed and devalued Oromo nationalism by falsely claiming it has reduced the significance of the Oromo nation to a local phenomenon.
  4. Creating animosity and hatred for Oromo nationalists, Abiy’s government used the assassination of Hacaalu Hundessa (for which it is either directly or indirectly responsible) to amass Oromo political leaders, nationalists, and activists and jam them in overcrowded and filthy jails, which are infested with Covid-19 and other dangerous diseases. Following the killing of Hacaalu Hundessa on June 29, 2020, the government massacred hundreds of people and incarcerated more than 9,000 Oromos, charging them with terrorism.
  5. Abiy and his nafxanyaa comrades are campaigning hard to misinform the world community by portraying Oromo nationalists as extremists and terrorists. The fact on the ground, however, is that the Oromo people have never resorted to terrorism or extremism in their bitter struggle to liberate themselves from the yoke of barbaric subjugation and economic marginalization.

Preemptive political crimes have been concocted and implemented to enable the PP to win the upcoming elections and keep Abiy in power. Above all, Abiy’s security infrastructure has detained most of the known OLF leadership to make it a marionette of PP or to simply destroy it. When these efforts failed, the government sponsored the creation of what is now called the Hilton group, a renegade group corrupted from the ranks of the OLF that takes its orders from Abiy’s government. The fact that the Abiy government is now calling for a general election is clear evidence that COVID-19 was not the reason for postponing the May 2020 election. If that was the reason, the government does not reverse the decision now when COVID-19 is more prevalent. The true intention for illegally and unconstitutionally postponing the election was to weaken formidable political opponents so that Abiy and his party can declare victory by running against themselves, as they did in the 2015 sham election.

The declaration by agents of the government of Ethiopia and the neo-nafxanyaa media outlets that the chairman of the OLF was replaced by his deputy chairman was intended to spread confusion and to demoralize the Oromo people and promote the renegade group. Overall, the assassination of Hacaalu and the attack on the Oromo people and their leaders have renewed the commitment of the people to intensify the Oromo national movement in Oromia and the diaspora. Ongoing rebellions, economic boycotts and shutting down of highways are clear examples. The Oromo diaspora has come out in en masse in support of the Oromo struggle in Oromia by engaging in series of demonstrations and by engaging in public diplomacy on behalf their people. The demand to release all political prisoners and to abolish command posts in Oromia with emphatic support for the Oromo Liberation Army have dominated Oromo medias and other media outlets.

Recommended actions

Our people, while aspiring for the liberation of their society and country under such dire conditions, must know that they need independent political organizations that lead their national movement through the rough roads ahead. Consequently, while engaging in different political activities, they must consider the following.

  1. Support the call for the formation of the Transitional Government of Oromia and contribute their fair share to its implementation;
  2. Become members or supporters of independent Oromo political organizations and provide human and financial resources to build the Oromo national organizational capacity;
  3. Join or support independent national civic institutions such as Oromia Global Forum;
  4. Centralize and coordinate the Qeerroo/Qarree movement with new strategies and tactics, armed with a robust network of firm and honest leadership that can resist corruption and infiltration by government security networks;
  5. Like any society in the world, the Oromo need their national defense army, which will protect them and their country from tyranny that have become too common these days. Therefore, every Oromo has a moral and national obligation to support the Oromo Liberation Army (OLA) financially, ideologically, and intellectually.
  6. Support Oromo media outlets that focus on the Oromo national struggle to engage in knowledge dissemination and propaganda more actively. The enemies of the Oromo have been depicting the Oromo nation negatively and calling them foreigners in their own country. Currently, our external and internal enemies are painting members of Oromo society as extremists and terrorists, who hate non-Oromos and commit genocide on them. These nafxanyaa forces and their collaborators are well organized and financed, with powerful media outlets that attack the Oromo people day and night. In order to defend themselves from such attacks, the Oromo need to consolidate their media capacity, in order to equip our people with liberation knowledge by focusing on Oromo national culture, history, and national Oromummaa.
  7. Support our firm and historic initiatives to immediately start national dialogue among independent political groups or organizations, activists, scholars, religious institutions, etc., toward the creation of an independent Oromia democratic state to, once and for all, liberate Oromia from a stubborn adversary that is unwilling to live together with Oromos as equals by respecting Oromo national identity, lives, and culture.
  8. In summary, rather than waiting for Oromo political parties to mobilize and organize the Oromo people at home or in the diaspora, all freedom loving Oromos must voluntarily join or support our independent organizations and build their national leadership and organizational capacity. At the same time, Oromo nationalists and others must marshal their economic and intellectual resources to build OLA as the Oromo national defense force. It is a high time to stop appealing to and begging our morally corrupt external and internal enemies, and to take our national destiny in our hands. Once the independent Oromia democratic state is formed, the Oromo can freely decide on the process of forming a multinational confederation or federation within the context of a multinational democracy.

Respectfully,

Signatories,

  1. Adugna Birhanu (Ph.D)
  2. Alemayehu Biru (Ph.D)
  3. Amanuel Gobena (Ph.D)
  4. Asefa Jalata (Ph.D)
  5. Asfaw Beyene (Ph.D)
  6. Ayana Gobena (Ph.D)
  7. Bahiru Duguma (Ph.D)
  8. Baro Deressa (MD)
  9. Bedassa Tadesse (Ph.D)
  10. Begna Dugassa (Ph.D)
  11. Bekele Temesgen (Ph.D)
  12. Benti Getahun (Ph.D)
  13. Berhanu Kedida (MD)
  14. Bersisa Berri (Ph.D)
  15. Bichaka Fayissa (Ph.D)
  16. Daniel Ayana (Ph.D)
  17. Degefa Abdissa Ph.D)
  18. Dessalegn Negeri (Ph.D)
  19. Desta Yebassa (Ph.D)
  20. Gizachew Tesso (Ph.D)
  21. Guluma Gemeda (Ph.D)
  22. Haile Hirpa (Ph.D)
  23. Ibrahim Elemo (Ph.D)
  24. Iddoosaa Ejeta (Ph.D)
  25. Ismael Abdullahi (Ph.D)
  26. Jamal Ebrahim (MD)
  27. Jemal Hebano (PharmD)
  28. Jenberu Feyisa (Ph.D)
  29. Junaidi Ahmed (MD)
  30. Koste Abdissa (Ph.D)
  31. Mekbib Gebeyehu (Ph.D)
  32. Mekuria Bulcha (Ph.D)
  33. Moa Apagodu (Ph.D)
  34. Mohammed Hassan(Ph.D)
  35. Mosisa Aga (Ph.D)
  36. Namara Garbaba (Ph.D)
  37. Oli Bachie (Ph.D)
  38. Rundassa Eshete (Ph.D)
  39. Samuel Geleta (Ph.D)
  40. Solomon Geleta (Ph.D)
  41. Teferi Margo (Ph.D)
  42. Tekleab Shibru (Ph.D)
  43. Tesfaye Negeri (Ph.D)
  44. Tesfaye Tesso (Ph.D)
  45. Thomas Baisa (MD)
  46. Tolawak Beyene (MD)
  47. Workineh Torben (Ph.D)
  48. Worku Burayu (Ph.D)
  49. Hambisa Belina (Ph.D)
  50. Habtalem Kenea (Ph.D)
  51. Alemayehu Kumsa (Ph.D)
  52. Alem Hika (Ph.D)
  53. Galaana Balcha (MD)
  54. Henok Gabisa (Ph.D)
  55. Mohammed Tahiro (Ph.D)
  56. Jirenya Gudeta (M.Sc)
  57. Imiru Itana (M.Sc)
  58. Itana Habte (Ph.D)
  59. Tsegaye Ararsa (Ph.D)
  60. Beyan Asoba (Ph.D)
  61. Mesfin Abdi (Ph.D)
  62. Gobena Huluka (Ph.D)
  63. Benti Ujulu (Ph.D)
  64. Kano Banjaa (Ph.D)
  65. Zelalem Abera (M.Sc)
  66. Teshome Dime (M.Sc)
  67. Abdisa Koricho (Ph.D)
  68. Geremew Nigatu (Ph.D)
  69. Ayele Teressa (Ph.D)

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THE OROMO NATION HAVE RIGHTS TO CELEBRATE IRREECHA FREE FROM ATTACK

(A4O, Press Release, 30 Sept 2020) We support the right of the Oromo people in their home state of Oromia to peacefully celebrate one of the most important Oromo cultural holidays, Irreecha, on October 3-4, 2020.  Each year, massive crowds gather in Finfinnee and Bishoftuu, Oromia for the Oromo annual festival, Irreechaa.  

The Irreecha -Oromo Thanksgiving Day, has gone on for many years to celebrate the harvest season. Irreechaa is celebrated as a sign of reciprocating Waaqa in the form of providing praise for what they got in the past and is also a forum of prayer for the future.  In the past, it has also been a forum for peaceful political protest and expression.  In Oromo culture, both types of peaceful demonstrations are fully permissible.

This year’s festival, on October 3 and 4, occurs against the backdrop of escalating tensions and unrest in Oromia. Both federal and regional officials have stated that they will limit participation and political expression in this longstanding peaceful celebration. What is perhaps most concerning is the increased military-style presence of security forces in Oromia.

Our Appeals

We view the government’s attempts to limit participation in Irreechaa with suspicion. Though, reasonable restrictions on public gatherings may be justified during this pandemic period, the government should show restraint at upcoming festival.  

In this forum, the Oromo people have every right to peacefully voice their opposition to the government’s policies and governance.  Any effort by the security forces to stop such free speech should be considered a limit on freedom of speech and unacceptable.

We urge caution by Ethiopian security forces and respect for citizen rights to avoid a repeat of 2016 attack and aggression that left hundreds of dead.

The Oromo nation have rights to celebrate Irreechaa free from any repression and attach.

Thanks to God for all the blessing

This festival is a spectacular show of cultural, historical, and natural beautification in their full glory at the height of the season. It has spawned somewhat of a science of knowing just when the blooms will peak at blooms and decline, depending on the wind, rain, and sunshine they get.

Now it is the beginning of 2020 Irreechaa celebrations, the premier holiday of the Oromo people marks the end of the dark-rainy season and the beginning of a blossom harvest season. The event is very important for our nation as it brings the nation together and helps to connect and share experiences in their day to day life.

The theme of this year Irreechaa is “Moving Forward: A Year of Consensus” in which it aims to celebrate Irreechaa as a medium for bringing all Oromias together to promote a process of our tradition group decision-making where the members are willing to work together to find the solution that meets the needs of Oromo people.

Together, we can make our destiny better everywhere.

Yours faithfully,

Dabessa W Gemelal,

Director, Advocacy for Oromia

Response from CARE Ethiopia

Thank you for sharing your concerns with us.  We take all allegations seriously.

CARE International in Ethiopia has issued a statement on the matter, as follows:

“CARE International in Ethiopia would like to note that as an organization held accountable by strong, globally agreed core values of respect, integrity and diversity, we are a non-partisan, non-religious entity that does not discriminate on any basis.  We recognize that the erroneous language used in an internal advisory has understandably caused pain and anger.  We confirm that no ill will was intended.  The communication was purely intended as an internal advisory in advance of any festivals or holidays, to keep our staff safe and secure.”

CARE is investigating this matter in order to ensure that any actions taken are consistent with our values as an organization.  

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