Lemma Megerssa and Abba Gadaas Meeting: Discourse Analysis
By Tullu Liban
On September 1st, 2017 the Oromia Media Network (OMN) released an audio talk secretly recorded on September 28, 2017 in Bishoftu town when Lemma Megerssa, President of the Oromia State conducted a meeting with Abba Gadas (the Gada office bearers) drawn from different Oromia zones. Critically analysed the conversation that Lamma made with the Abba Gadas (rather the confrontation) was not a business as usual session. Therefore, it shouldn’t be left unscrutinised for it reveals a lot of obscurities surrounding the attacks opened on the Oromo people in different fronts at this point in time and earlier. It also demystified the Ethiopian government’s rhetoric about political prisoners.
The Abba Gadas, who raised some critical questions during the meeting they held with Lemma are not only eye witnesses of the atrocities committed against their own people in their localities but also are victims of the attacks themselves one way or the other. They are not living in a luxurious villa in Addis Ababa like Lemma Megerssa, guarded by MI6 trained armed forces. They are the ones who confront the challenges posed against their lives day in and day out and share the pains of the Oromo people.
Unfortunately, the response they received from Lemma was all full denial of the facts, packed with contempt, dishonesty and disrespect. The Abba Gadas from Odda Roba of Bale and Oda Bultum of Haregehe firmly brought to the attention of Lemma Megersa the war opened on the Oromo people by the Somali region Special Police known as Liyyu Hayile led by “Commander in-chief” Abdi Iley, the Somali region head.
The Abba Gada of Oda Bultum, from Haragehe told Lemma that 5 Kebeles from Chinagsen district, 5 Kebeles from Gursum district and 20 Keebels from other districts are being taken away violently by the Somali region forces who are well trained and armed. He also stressed that from early on the so-called plebiscite was made on the Oromo land compromising Oromia’s territory and that 55 Kebeles across the Wabe River in Bale Zone were taken away from Oromia and that villagers who were forcefully fell under Somali administration bitterly protested the decision proclaiming that they would love to live as Oromos unless they dead and buried because they can’t be otherwise changing their identity from Oromo.
The Abba Gada from Oda Roba (Bale) also noted that a lot of attacks are being waged on the Oromo people from different lines. In the North, the Oromo of Wallo in Kamise area are being attacked by Afari armed forces. In Wallega the Benshangul Gumz forces are killing Oromos. In the South Amaros invaded Guji Oromos. The Abba Gada of Oda Roba asked why the hell all the attacks are opened on the Oromo people. The Abba Gada Roba also said that in Bale in Sewena district the Somalis claimed the Nabro stream area, to belong to them and they changed the name of the place to Buqa Chalel. He said Oromos lost 10 dearest lives in defending that very place from the invading Special Police of the Somali.
The Abba Gada Roba said the year 2017 is a year of grief and mourning for the Oromo for people are being attacked by manmade and natural forces. On the one hand Oromos are killed by various invaders and on the other their cattle are killed by drought in the low land areas.
The Tulama Abba Gada also raised an important issue why Oromos and their leaders are jailed, in the Ethiopian prisons and why new prison houses are constructed for the Oromo nationals.
These and similar other questions forced Lemma Megerssa to respond contemptibly, yet eliciting some essential truths that should be noted cautiously to understand the facts on the ground in Oromia.
1. Lemma told us he was part of the plebiscites that took place in 2005 to determine the Somali and Oromia boundaries. Thus, he cannot be free from whatsoever accountability the crimes committed against the Oromo people involve. The current attack is the direct consequence of the scandals connected with the plebiscites that permitted the taking away of Oromo land.
2. Lemma said his government released 17,000 prisoners and he proudly stated none of these people are thieves (meaning they are political prisoners). He strongly emphasised his government didn’t pardon thieves. The question is why all these political prisoners have been thrown to jail in Oromia. In another account, an article posted by Addisu Arega Qitessa, Oromia State Communication Affairs head on FB timeline confirms that 22,000 prisoners were released on pardon since Lemma Megersa came to power. This is an important admission, despite the contradictions in number. The Ethiopian government always claims that there are no political prisoners in the country. For the Ethiopian government, all the prisoners including political party leaders are criminals. Lemma made clear the facts and one can evidently evaluate contradictions.
3. Lemma asked the meeting participants to count how many people had been killed year after year from the 2005 plebiscites until he came to power as the head of Oromia state. He pompously told the gathering that the killings have been minimized during his presidency. The confirmation he gave here is that the attacks have been underway all the time. That is exactly an approval to Mohammed Kamal’s report on Me’esso massacres since 2005. (OMN Sept 1, 2017). Despite Lemma’s denial, massacres are still going on by the Somali Special Force as in Mi’esso. Addisu Arega Qitessa posted today on his FB that a hand grenade was thrown on school children and that 4 of them were wounded. One can imagine how this information is highly censored and that the causalities on innocent children would be far more serious than what Addisu told the public.
4. Lemma said the first action his government took to address the Somali Special Police is saving lives, meaning rescue operation. Unknowingly or negligently Lemma confirmed that the attack is real. On the other he never mentioned any counter attack from the part of the Oromia state. Why? Is Lemma’s government playing the role of the Red Cross Society by focusing only on rescue operation? Is only rescue action is expected from the Oromia government? Whose duty is then to protect the Oromo people from attacks? Even, while self-importantly Lemma said his government has given priority to life saving, he didn’t explain what it takes to do so.
5. Sadly enough, Lemma Megerssa denied the attacks that are taking place on the Miesso front in the East, Caffa Mille front, in the North and Gambella and Benhangul Borders in the West.
However, facts can speak for themselves. There is no convenient shade for tyrants to conceal their crimes in this era of ours. Thanks technology that empowered citizen journalists to present details about what is going on beyond the mountains with images and videos. Hence, it has become so difficult even for sophisticated operators to hide their muggings on citizens.