Oromo Diaspora protest against Ethiopian Government soldiers killings of student demonstrators.
Oromo Diaspora held rallies across many parts of the globe over the weekend in solidarity with Oromo Students in Ethiopia protesting against government plans in their region.
The rallies took place in many cities in the United States, including Washington DC.; in Toronto, Canada; London, UK; in Den Haag, The Netherlands; and in Melbourne, Australia. Other demonstrations are announced to take place in coming days.
The Oromo Diaspora accuse the Ethiopian government of using violence against unarmed and peaceful Oromo students. Independent sources, including theHuman Rights Watch, have confirmed the death of many student protesters by the hands of Ethiopian government soldiers.
The Student protests have started May, 2014 after a government master plan was leaked to the public. Protesters say if the master plan is executed, many Oromo farmers and other Oromos living in the surroundings of Addis Ababa would be forced to abandon their land, as has been done in Gambella region, where local people were displaced without compensation, and their land leased to foreign companies.
The BBC reported several student deaths last year as the government soldiers used live bullets against the students. After last year’s violence against student protesters, the government promised the plan is just a ‘rumour’ and no integration of Addis Ababa and adjacent Oromia lands will be carried out. But the government has since backed down and changed its rhetoric. Analysts say the initial denial of the existence of the master plan was a tactical manoeuvre, and the government deliberately postponed the implementation of the master plan until the then approaching election (which took place in May, 2015) was over.
Oromo ethnic make up the largest ethnicity in modern Ethiopia; their region which is one of nine regions constituiting the Federal Ethiopia is also the largest in the country.
The Oromo grievances against the regime dates back to the early days of modern Ethiopian history and Emperor Menelik, who despite being an Amhara, chose to establish his new base in Finfinne, and changed its name to Addis Ababa. Orormos feel that Finfinne has been robbed of them before, and now what is left of their regions is being threatened by the government’s master plan.
The one-party administration in Ethiopia is facing an increasing pressure by ethnicities that say they are marginalised, including the Ogaden (Somali region), Gambella, Benishangul, Sidama and even members of the Amhara ethnic group who also complain discrimination by Tigray minority who consolidated government power since the downfall of Mengistu Haile Mariam in 1991.