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Request to support the Establishment of Oromia Transitional Caretaker Government

Dear Sir,

Subject: Request to support the Establishment of Oromia Transitional Caretaker Government, and to intervene to resolve the Ethiopian Constitutional Crisis

We, the undersigned members of the Oromia Global Forum, are writing to request your support for formation of Transitional Caretaker Government of Oromia as proposed by the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) and the Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC). We also request you to urgently intervene and avert the impending constitutional crisis in Ethiopia which, if left unattended to, can most likely result in a civil war with potentials for genocide and refugee crisis. 

On October 5, 2020, the term of office for both federal and regional governments in Ethiopia will expire. However, the regime in power has unconstitutionally and forcefully postponed national and regional elections indefinitely. Rejected by the Oromo and other nations and nationalities, the government is engaged in conducting vindictive, politically motivated, imprisonments, extrajudicial killings, looting of properties, and all sort of crimes in Oromia state, in particular.

The Oromo people have endured unprecedented brutality, deprivation, expropriation of their ancestral lands, enslavement, and relentless attack on their cultural heritage, language, institution, and national identity ever since the Abyssinian (later named Ethiopian) rulers invaded and conquered Oromia and southern nations between 1880 and 1913. Erving E. BeaureGard (1976, PP24) vividly described Menelik II of Abyssinia conducted wanton aggression and invasion of Oromia using weapons purchased from the French adventurers [1]. In the article published by the New York Times on February 26, 1895, under the title of “Menelik’s terrible expedition,” the newspaper describes that an expedition sent by king Menelik of Shewa Amhara (1866-1889), and later the emperor of Ethiopia (1889-1913), against the “Galla tribes” (the then reference to the Oromo people by Amharas and Abyssinian rulers) slew 70,000 tribesmen and captured 15,000 men [2]. The brutal attack continued and decimated the Oromo population from 10 million by half to 5 million resulting in the extermination of millions of the Oromos, according to Martial De Salviac, a French missionary who lived among the Oromos [3, 4].

Abyssinia had neither the knowledge nor the capacity to conquer neighboring free nations if it were not for the firearms and military advice emperor Menelik received from European colonial powers including Great Britain, France, and Italy, during “the European scramble for Africa”. There was practical consanguinity between other African colonization and invasion of Oromia and similar states neighboring Abyssinia. European colonizers and Abyssinians used identical tools and pursued a similar objective of dominating and exploiting others’ economic and human resources.

With the continued advice and support of European colonial powers, the Abyssinian empire joined the League of Nations as a junior colonial partner, to gain protection and to consolidate its expansion into Oromia, southern, and eastern states, under the reign of king Haile Selassie. Later, the Abyssinian empire was renamed to the Ethiopian empire under the leadership of Haile Selassie in 1931. Both king Menelik and Haile Selassie turned Oromos into serfs, dispossessed them of their properties, lands, and human rights for over eight decades until the communist military junta regime of Mengistu Haile Mariam rose to power in 1974 following the civilian disobedience led by the Oromos and other oppressed nations.

It is unfortunate that the United Nations that replaced the League of Nations and promoted freedom and the independence of nations following World War II chose to turn a blind eye to the subjugation of the Oromo people in contravention of its own policies elsewhere and the Charter of the United Nations which affirms the Right to Self-determination of all peoples. Throughout history, UN and Western Powers have protected the Ethiopian empire with no regard for the Oromo people’s welfare and their right to self-determination, thereby perpetuating their subjugation. Regardless, Oromia has never voluntarily accepted the union with Abyssinia. It is involuntarily kept in Ethiopia and endures continued violence and tyranny.

  In 1991, the Mengistu Haile Mariam’s military regime was removed from power by the bitter struggle of the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF), the Tigray People Liberation Front (TPLF), and the Eritrean People Liberation Front (EPLF) which was followed by the London Conference, led by the United States government, which ended by rewarding the Eritreans with their independence, and TPLF with “state responsibility” of forming the Ethiopian Transitional Government. The Oromo and other nations and nationalities accepted the Transitional Charter that outlined the formation of a multi-national federal arrangement that recognized the nations’, nationalities’, and peoples’ right to self-determination and self-rule. However, in practice, they were denied these rights. The OLF was eventually forced out of the Transitional Government in 1992, and Oromia has been subjected to military rule ever since.

Before it assumed state power, the TPLF had created the Oromo People’s Democratic Organization (OPDO) from Afaan Oromo-speaking prisoners of war, with the mission of suppressing dissent in, and exploiting, Oromia. It had also created the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) which included OPDO and its other servile parties that it controlled, and in whose name it ruled the country with an iron fist, before it was forced to retreat to Tigray by Oromo non-violent revolution.

The Oromo non-violent revolution which started in 2014, culminated in the expulsion of TPLF from the seats of federal power in 2018, and was hoped to usher in freedom for the Oromo and other peoples of the country. Despite costing the Oromo nation thousands of lives, the revolution was hijacked by Afaan Oromo-speaking Neo-neftegna group led by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed within the OPDO. To hide its true colors, the Neo-Neftegna team promised to respect human rights, freedom of speech, freedom of association, freedom of press, abide by the constitution, rule of law and transition to democratic governance. The promised reform and transition to democracy was derailed by the backward-looking imperial ambition of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed to become the 7th king of the empire and to stay in power against the will of the peoples of Ethiopia.

As a result, Ethiopia is on the verge of becoming a failed state under the visionless, Machiavellian style leadership of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed. While Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed is busy with glorifying and building statues for the most barbaric brutal feudal kings of Abysinia, the whole world is demolishing statues of such brutal figures everywhere. He is working hard to dismantle the multi-national constitution currently in place and to take back Ethiopia to the feudal era instead of crafting a forward-looking system that could hold together the diverse multinational empire of Ethiopia. To this end, he has fully deployed military rule (command post) by commanding the army, national security and police forces to silence all progressive Organizations that support transition to democracy, self-determination and respect human rights in all parts of the country.

Furthermore, to remain in power indefinitely, the neo-neftegna group led by Abiy Ahmed has illegally and forcefully postponed national and regional elections indefinitely, and beyond its five years term of office ending on October 5, 2020, thereby creating a clear constitutional crisis.  

To resolve the constitutional crisis and to bring about a solution to the Oromo people’s long-standing political demands, the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) and the Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC), two leading independent Oromo opposition parties that are legally registered with the National Electoral Board of Ethiopia, had formally called on the Ethiopian government to chart a political solution in the form of a Transitional Caretaker government involving all legally registered independent political parties in the country. Instead of heeding their advice, the government of the PM Abiy Ahmed decided to extend his power through an unconstitutional interpretation of the constitution.

As a result, come October 5, 2020, due to the absence of a constitutionally mandated government in Oromia and Ethiopia, chaos and civil war are very likely to ensue, resulting in refugee crisis and potential genocide by the illegitimate military government of Abiy Ahmed. To avert this impending catastrophe, Oromia urgently needs the establishment of a Transitional Caretaker Government.

The Tigray region has been enjoying absolute freedom since 1992 and has now defied the federal government and held a regional election as a reflection of its status as a genuinely autonomous state in the Ethiopian empire [5]. The Amhara region also enjoys autonomy. Its leaders advance the Amhara people’s interests both in their region and at the federal government level. Oromia, however, has been transformed into a battlefield by this regime through imposition of illegal state of emergency. Since the invasion and occupation of Oromia by Abysinia, the Oromo have never been allowed to choose their representatives and form their own government. All rulers of Oromia, including the current pseudo-government led by deputy president Shimalis Abdissa, have been installed and imposed on the Oromo people by the central government. 

Taking the gravity of the situation into account, the Oromo Liberation Front and the Oromo Federalist Congress have proposed the establishment of Oromia Transitional Caretaker Government involving all Oromo stakeholders, and have called for support and intervention of the global powers and your leadership.

As a coalition of 45 Oromo civic, professional, human right, and faith-based organizations, the Oromo Global Forum calls on the UN, US, EU, AU, and all global stakeholders to intervene in the political and constitutional crisis of Ethiopia, and to support the formation of Transitional Caretaker Government of Oromia involving independent Oromo institutions. The proposed Transitional Caretaker Government of Oromia will oversee a peaceful, free, and fair elections led by an impartial and independent Electoral Commission it shall establish under the supervision of UN, US, EU, and AU.

We believe disregard for this call and continued indifference to seek a permanent resolution for the Oromo political demands will be regrettable. We consider all global powers who have contributed to emboldening the regime in power through financial and military support are equally responsible for the ongoing crimes the regime in power is committing against Oromos and other nations and nationalities in the Ethiopian empire.

The global powers should learn from the consequences of ignoring the national crises in Somalia, Yugoslavia, Yemen, Ruanda, etc. Early intervention in the impending crisis in Ethiopia can save millions of human lives, and can avert enormous refugee crisis and human misery of the local populations, and can also save humanitarian aid costs to international organizations and governments.

Thus, as advocates for the Oromo people, we reiterate our call for your intervention and support for the OLF and OFC proposed establishment of an autonomous Oromia Transitional Caretaker Government that shall establish an impartial and independent Electoral Commission to ensure a free and fair elections and govern Oromia for the duration of the transitional period.    

We sincerely hope you will take our advice seriously and play a leading role in ending the suffering of the Oromo and other marginalized peoples in Ethiopia preventing a potentially devastating civil war.

With best regards,

The Oromia Global Forum

OGF Signatories:

  1. Advocacy4Oromia
  2. Bilal Oromo Dawa Center
  3. Canaan Oromo Evangelical Church
  4. Charismatic International Fellowship Church
  5. DMV Oromo Islamic Center
  6. FOCAS
  7. Gaadisa Sabboontottaa KP
  8. Global Gumii Oromia
  9. Global Oromo Advocacy Group
  10. Global Waaqeffannaa Council
  11. Horn of Africa Genocide Watch
  12. Human Rights League of the Horn of Africa
  13. International Oromo Lawyers Association
  14. International Oromo Women’s Organization
  15. International Qeerroo Support Group
  16. Network of Oromo Studies
  17. Mana Kiristaanaa Fayyisaa Addunyaa
  18. Oromo Christ Evangelical Lutheran Church
  19. Oromo Communities’ Association of North America
  20. Oromo Community of Bergen
  21. Oromo Community of Columbus Ohio
  22. Oromo Community of Oslo
  23. Oromo Evangelical Lutheran Church of Los Angeles
  24. Oromo Evangelical Lutheran Church of Washington DC Metropolitan Area
  25. Oromo Evangelical Lutheran Mission Society
  26. Oromo Human Rights and Relief Organization
  27. Oromo Legacy, Leadership and Advocacy Association
  28. Oromo Lutheran Church of Baltimore
  29. Oromo Parliamentarians Council
  30. Oromo Political Prisoners Association
  31. Oromo Relief Organization, ORA in USA
  32. Oromo Resurrection Evangelical Church
  33. Oromo Scholars and Professionals
  34. Oromo Seniors Welfare & Benevolent Association In Victoria (OSWBAV) Inc
  35. Oromo Studies Association
  36. Oromia Support Group
  37. Our Redeemer Oromo Evangelical Church
  38. Tawfiq Islamic Center
  39. Tawhid Oromo Islamic Center in Minnesota
  40. Tumsa Sochii Haqa Oromoo
  41. Union of Oromo Communities in Canada
  42. United Oromo Chirstian Church in Australia
  43. United Oromo Evangelical Church
  44. Wabii Maccaa Association
  45. Washington DC Metropolitan Oromo SDA Church

Reference:

  1. https://www.jstor.org/stable/24520234?seq=1
  2. https://www.nytimes.com/1895/02/26/archives/meneleks-terrible-expedition.html (please see the attached image of the NY Times article)
  3. De Salviac, Un peuple antique au pays de Ménãik, 86-87, 278.
  4. https://www.jstor.org/stable/41931279?seq=1#metadata_info_tab_contents
  5. https://addisstandard.com/news-tigray-region-says-it-will-defy-federal-laws-enacted-as-of-oct-05-edp-calls-for-transitional-govt-inclusive-dialogue-reconciliation

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.