A Brief Reflection on Oromo Ethiopian Students’ Protests
By Biri Yaya (Ph.D.)*
The protests in the Oromia Region have continued unabated despite the TPLF-EPRDF’s shoot-to-kill policy against peaceful students and farmers. Many have written about the causes and implications.
The regime continues to react in the usual predictable manners: detaining hundreds of thousands of people; organizing showcase public meetings; and denouncing the same groups that are unfortunate to be in the country and those which have no options, but opt for ‘armed struggles’ from outside.
What are the causes?
The official explanation is the Addis Ababa and environs’ expansion Master Plan that the regime has been using to evict farmers from their lands using false pretexts. The regime had been quick to state that the Master Plan was meant nothing other than a figment of its thinking which did not make it into an actual policy for ready implementation and which could be discarded, if people would reject it. However, this handy declaration could not tame the anger or help stop the ongoing effective demonstration for at least two reasons: TPLF’s security massacred innocents, including minors and pregnant women, in its usual fashion of guns to guarantee supremacy, and the fact that the Master Plan is the symptom of the illness rather than the sickness that has given birth to the protests.
The students’ slogans clearly indicates the real reason for the protests: “Students’ demands are farmers’ demand: land to the tillers is our motto!” Further, the demands are for meaningful engagements on equal footing, respect for basic rights, and equal access to the nation’s wealth and assets. This, in effect, is a challenge to the principle and operational working of democracy in name, and the meaningless provisions of the so called the federal dispensations under the TPLF guarantorship and custodianship. To the ruling minority, the challenges are too unpalatable to contemplate, especially as they are too comfortable in their jackpot world of casinos that the winner takes all.
The TPLF gangsters, with their xPDO’s at their tails, have convinced themselves of the aura of supernatural being that there is no time to read the signs: changing times, depth of anger, universal sufferings and the shifting sands of politics.
Where are we heading?
The protest in the Oromia region is a part and parcel of the other mass actions over several years. The demands are for equitable access and respect for basic rights – which, in a sense, are demands for democratic accountability and citizenship rights. Hence, the cosmetic phrases of the regime are poor matches for the quest for basic rights. It is a telling of the time that the Ethiopian students’ motto of “land to the tillers” has come back. The Oromo Ethiopian students have demonstrated courage in peaceful defiance in the face of TPLF’s barbaric actions. It is likely that the struggle will continue, and everyday passing day, it will cement the resolve and determination to continue.
Other Ethiopians are pulling together under the rallying call of “we are all Oromos!” Oromo students and activists have responded by holding high cards that they are Ethiopians, and their quest is for democracy, but not to destroy Ethiopia! Democrats should build on this coming together of that majority across Ethiopia – who are the actual victims of the ethnocentric minority regime of the TPLF-EPRDF.
We have to lobby the world powers to see the genocidal actions of the unaccountable regime. We need to do this swiftly to prevent a scenario of Western direct intervention, which, in the long term, is not in Ethiopia’s interests. We must also remember that the regime, that fails to reform, goes down leaving a power vacuum, rendering us at the mercy of another gangster regime in the making. We must make sure that our people continue to see each other as brothers and sisters with similar destiny. TPLF agents are trying their best to divide our people, but have been failing at it!
Finally, it is well to remember that the TPLF is not TIGRAY, despite its external banners. We have to decouple the TPLF from our Tigrean brothers and sisters.
The struggle is against TPLF’s tyranny!
* Biri Yaya (Ph.D.): London, UK