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Memorial Day of the Oromo Martyrs

By Leenjiso Horo | April 13, 2014
The legacy of heroes is the memory of a great name and the inheritance of a great example
–Benjamin Disraeli
The 15th day of April/Ebla is the Memorial Day of the Oromo Martyrs. For this, on this day of April, we come together to commemorate the fallen Oromo heroes and heroines. This day has been designated as the Memorial Day of Oromo Martyrs at the meeting of the National Council (Gumii Sabaa) of Oromo Liberation Front held in 1984. Since then, the Oromo have been observing this Memorial Day and it has gained widespread acceptance and popular support among the Oromo people and the Oromo nationals in the Diaspora. This day is popularly known as Guyyaa Yaadannoo Gootoota Oromoo.
Every nation has a day set aside for the remembrance of those who gave their lives for the defense of their country; for freedom, liberty and dignity of their people. This is also true for the Oromo nation. For the Oromo, Guyyaa Gootoota Oromoo is especially important and significant for two reasons. One is for no other people have given so many martyrs in the defense of their country and nation for over a century consistently without giving up the struggle and without failing to sacrifice their precious lives. The struggle and sacrifice are still continuing. The second significance of this day, as noted above, is this: on this day of 15th of April 1980, the whole leadership of the OLF was murdered by a splinter group of Somalia Army while this leadership was on a diplomatic mission to Somalia. Such a massacre of a whole leadership of an organization is the first in history.
Throughout our long history of occupation, each time an Oromo man, woman, or child stood up against the colonialist, he or she is brutally murdered. Every Oromo man, woman, or child who refused to give up his/her name, religion, language, national identity has been ridiculed, humiliated, despised, castigated, and denied opportunities. So, it is these nationals as a whole that through their resistance to colonial occupation and through their fighting against it that pulled the Oromo nation one step back from the abyss of extinction. These nationals chose death over betrayal of the struggle for independence of Oromiyaa. Hence, these martyrs form the core of Oromo history. They are the ones who bravely and selflessly with determination defended and still defending our existence as a nation and as a people. It is these nationals who fought and still fighting for the independence of Oromiyaa even to the point of giving up their own lives so that we could continuously have before us example of self-sacrifice which would serve to encourage us to preserve ourselves today and our country for future generation.
The legacy of our martyrs is a sacred obligation for each and every one of us to fight for our country to liberate, defend and protect it. But the question to be raised is this: have we Oromo nationals at the present time lived up to this obligation? It is clear that some nationals do indeed lived up to this obligation, while others not. It is also true some Oromo have fulfilled or fulfilling this obligation more thoroughly than others. Today, as it always has been, is the call of the time that all Oromo nationals fulfill their obligation so as to expel the enemy from their country-Oromiyaa.
This Martyrs Day is meant to commemorate the Oromo heroes and heroines who had fallen in the defense of and in liberation struggle of Oromiyaa beginning with its colonization to the present and to commemorate those who had been massacred by the successive Abyssinian colonial regimes. Throughout the history of colonization of Oromiyaa, massacres and persecutions have been with the Oromo people. Today, under the Tigrayan occupation army the massacres and persecutions of the Oromo have surpassed that of its predecessors combined. The Oromo people have been targeted for a total annihilation. Along with this, the plunder, the stealing and the looting of Oromo resources and the environmental degradation in Oromiyaa and mutilation of Oromiyaa itself have been undertaken. These are unparalleled in the history of colonial occupation of Oromiyaa.
Here are the names of heroic leadership who were murdered on the 15th of April 1980:
1. Magarsaa Barii (nom de guerre Barisoo Waabi)-Secretary-General of the OLF;
2. Demise Tacaane (nom de guerre Gadaa Gammadaa);
3. Abboma Mitikku (non de guerre Abbaa Xiqii);
4. Yiggazu Banti(nom de guerre Doori Barii);
5. Falmataa Gadaa (aka. Umar, Caccabsaa);
6. Fafamaa Doyyoo;
7. Irrinaa Qacale(non de guerre Dhiba);
8. Dhaddachaa Mul’ataa;
9. Dhaddachaa Boruu and
10. Marii Galan.
One really needs to understand that 15th day of April is the commemoration of these martyrs as well as the past, the present, and the future martyrs. On this day, we think of martyrs; retell their stories and their heroic did and remember their names. It is also a day for the inheritance of their great examples. In the light of their sacrifices, we must make a firm commitment for which these patriotic nationalists gave their lives. This is the only fitting way to commemorate our martyrs. For this, we must be determined to preserve the very things for which they gave up their lives- the independence of Oromiyaa, the liberty, dignity and honour of their people.
In this struggle of ours, we must understand that in the condition we are in now, the international community will not note us. It no longer remembers what we say at forums, and meetings. Our letters to Presidents, Prime Ministers, the Secretary-General of UN, Senators, Congressmen and women, Governors, Mayors, and to the Editors of Newspapers and the Media outlets do not mean anything to them. We must learn lessons from Cambodia, Rwanda, Darfur, Bosnia and etcetera. Genocides were committed in these countries while the international community was watching on. Despite these, some Oromo nationals are still foolishly penning their hopes on the international community particularly on western countries. These Oromo nationals miserably failed to understand that the Tigrayan regime is client of the western governments. For this, they do not pay attention to us, but international community can never avoid our direct action if we fight; if we build uncontested liberation military might and make the empire ungovernable, then and only then, everybody will pay attention to us. We are in a protracted national liberation struggle. We have to earn the name liberation by our action. We have to make sure that the Oromiyaa’s soil burn the enemy feet and the Oromiyaa’s air burn the enemy faces. The Oromo roads have to be hostile to the enemy. We must make Oromiyaa a graveyard of the enemy-the TPLF. For these, we must fight on the ground-in the valleys, plains and villages everywhere across Oromiyaa. No Oromiyaa land be left for the enemy to walk on. “Once we have a war,” remarked Ernest Hemingway, “there is only one thing to do. It must be won. For the defeat brings worse things than any that can ever happen in war.” We are the living example of the conquest. The success of Amhara at the Berlin Conference of 1884/85 was followed with Tigrayan success at the London Conference of 1991. Both Conferences facilitated the conditions for the Abyssinians for the conquest of Oromiyaa. With the Berlin Conference, over five million Oromo were exterminated; many sold into slavery; the land was taken away and the remaining Oromo population became landless-tenants and their institutions were destroyed.
A century later, in a political maneuver at the London Conference of 1991, the TPLF grabbed opportunity to occupy Oromiyaa and has become master over it. With this, the use of violence, disrespect for the Oromo nation, illegal method of acquiring Oromo properties, and killings of Oromo become the Tigrayan methods of rule. This is what the Tigrayan regime of TPLF is and has been. Long before arriving in Oromiyaa, the Tigrayan elites saw the control of Oromiyaa and the annihilation of Oromo as its only option to rule the Ethiopian empire. For this, as soon as it entered Oromiyaa, it disrespected our people, threatened and endangered their wellbeing and then it resorted to widespread wave of annihilation throughout Oromiyaa. Then, by the law of conquest, it began grabbing Oromo land, creating and securing settlement sights for Tigrayans and other non-Oromo from across the empire in Oromiyaa, while evicting the Oromo population from their lands to make way for the newly arriving settlers. This has been organized by the Tigrayan elites who stand to gain from the crimes against the Oromo people. These heinous crimes committed in Oromiyaa against the Oromo people are all perpetrated with planning, organization and access to the empire resources including weapons, budgetary, distention facilities and mass media.
In London Conference, the “Oromo delegates” lost in the battlefield of the game of politics, whereby rivals maneuver for control of the issues and outcomes, practicing a brutal form of politics in which loss often equals death. The Oromo loss is attributed to those who went to the London Conference on their own without securing authorization from the collective leadership of the Oromo Liberation Front, its members, supporters, and the Oromo people. Because of this failure, the Tigrayans grabbed the opportunity to win and enter Oromiyaa. This led to a renewed wave of Oromo genocide and mutilation of Oromiyaa by the Tigrayan regime of Meles Zenawi. This must be reversed sooner than later. The TPLF must be expelled from Oromiyaa and its leaders must be brought to justice for the genocide they committed on the Oromo people.
For over a century, the Oromo patriotic nationalists had been sacrificed their lives for independence fighting against Abyssinian colonial occupation of Oromiyaa and many are still sacrificing in the struggle. Therefore, it is for us the living, rather, to dedicate ourselves here and now to the unfinished cause for which our heroes and heroines those who had fought and fallen and those who are still fighting have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us the living to dedicate ourselves to the great task standing before us-that from those honored martyred we take increased devotion to the cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion-that we here and now decisively resolve that those who martyred shall not have martyred in vain-that this great nation of ours shall have a birth of new Oromiyaa-an independent Democratic Republic of Oromiyaa-and that independent Oromiyaa shall establish an independent government of the people, by the people, for the people of Oromiyaa.
The lesson of Oromo martyrs is the love of Oromiyaa, identification with it; loyalty to the Oromo nation and determination to fight for independence if necessary unto death. This is what the brave sons and daughters of Oromiyaa had done in their fight against the occupier of their country. These patriotic nationalists brought Oromiyaa to light and put it on the map through their sacrifice and action. They embody great virtues; they stand for great principles; they illustrate noble qualities. It is for these, the colonialist guns and swords, its prisons, tortures, and the killings could not kill their spirit of fighting and their love for their people and country. Kidnappings, arrests, persecutions, concentration camps, secret cells, and the death squads did not deter them from their struggle for independence. All these, strengthened their attachment to the love of their country and people and so strengthened their resolve to fight for the independence of their country and for freedom, liberty, justice, and dignity of their people. History teaches us that no amount of arrests, persecutions, killings, rapes, tortures and plundering can stop a nation that is determined to struggles for their liberation and human dignity. And so nothing can stop the Oromo nation and their nationalists from the struggle for the independence of their country-Oromiyaa. These are the lessons to be learned from the Oromo martyrs and should indelibly be written upon minds of present generation and the new generations to come.
There is only one thing which can be dangerous to the liberation of Oromiyaa and to the Oromo national existence as a nation. That is the indifference of our own nationals to the cause of their people. Other than this, nothing an outsider can do will ever permanently harm us, but the collaboration with the colonialist against independence of Oromiyaa and the attitude of indifference and neglect on the part of some of our own fellow nationals to the Oromo national liberation struggle will surely be the dangerous ones. Such individuals are those whose spirits are broken, determination effaced and their courage fled. Such are individuals that lick the enemy hand that smite them. These individuals are the profiteers in the blood of their people. And they are dangerous to the national liberation struggle.
For a national liberation struggle to be successful first it needs strong organization; it needs nationalists with high spirit, determination, and courage to fight. Second, it needs unity of members and leaders on common objective; along with these there must be internal peace, political stability and a unified central leadership and command with common vision. To win a war without these is impossible.
“Culullee dhibbaa mannaa Risaa tokko wayya,” says the Oromo proverb. Metaphorically speaking it means, strong organization is better than hundred weak ones. Looking back at the Oromo history, we see this to be true. During the war of Oromiyaa conquest in the late nineteenth-century, there were many Oromo kingdoms and many regional Abbaa Duulaas/Defense Ministers. Each of them was not strong enough by themselves. On the other hand, they did not unite to stand against the enemy. Consequently, they were defeated one by one by the Army of king Menelik. Again, in 1991 there were five Oromo political organizations against one Tigrayan organization-the TPLF. All of them were unable to stop the TPLF from entering Oromiyaa. Again, after it entered Oromiyaa, they were unable to expel it from their country. The reason was simply there was no unity among Oromo political organizations.
The saddest of all is, most of the leadership of the Oromo political organizations are living in exile. Leadership in exile is a wrong model of leadership. Even during the dark days of Dergue regime, no Oromo political leadership ever left the country to live in exile. This is first time in the history of the Oromo national liberation struggle for the leadership to be in exile. History teaches us that no a Liberation Movement has ever liberated its country from colonial occupation without its leadership embedded within it. Moreover, never in history a leadership has ever liberated its country from foreign occupation from exile. Hence, it is vitally important for the Oromo political organizations to re-visit and re-examine the mistakes they made in the past so as to rectify them and unite the organizations into one-single whole with unified Central leadership and command. And the Politico-Military leadership should be in the country. Let this Memorial Day of the Oromo Martyrs guide us in this direction.
On this Memorial Day of Oromo Martyrs, let us dedicate ourselves to the struggle for independence of Oromiyaa in unity and harmony. Let us be worthy of the example of our martyrs. Let us honour their memory in this most suitable way by preserving the very ideas, values, principles and goal for which these Oromo nationalists martyred for-the independence of Oromiyaa.
Finally, I would like to say this, that it is also important to set the Oromo Genocide Memorial Day or Guyyaa Yaadannoo Sannyii Duguuggaa Oromoo aside for the remembrance of those millions of Oromos exterminated by the colonialist regime of King Menelik II during his war of colonial conquest of Oromiyaa. To establish such a Memorial Day for the victims of genocide is important. We do not have to wait until independence to set a day for observation. Such a Memorial Day will lead to greater unity among the nations and nationalities who were the victims of genocide of King Menelik II of Abyssinia. Let us do our part first.

Oromiyaa Shall Be Free!

The Oromo activist calls for the establishment of the Oromo Genocide Memorial Day

                                       By Leenjiso Horo | January 24, 2014
YaadannooThe marks of Aannolee, Azulee, and Chalanqoo Cannot be erased from the memory of successive Oromo generations and from the history of the Oromo people. These marks are incorporated into our collective memory. For this, centuries may pass, generations may come and go but the crimes of Abyssinia-the mutilation of breasts of women and girls and of the right hands of men and boys at Aannolee and the mass massacres at Azulee and Chalanqoo will not be erased, will never be diminished, and never be forgotten.
Menelik II’s mutilation of breasts of women and girls and of hands of men and boys is the first one in warfare throughout written history-from antiquity to modern times, unless proven to the contray. Those who support Menelik’s genocide at Aannolee, Azulee, and Calanqoo as a “holy war” or as a war of “reunification of Ethiopia” should hold full entitlement to it.
During the campaign of colonization of the south in the late nineteenth-century king Menelik II of Abyssinia exterminated the Oromo population by 50%, Kaficho by 75%, Gimira by 80% and Madii by over 90% (Radio Simbirtu interview with Prof. Mekuria Bulcha, 19 December 2013, part 2). These are genocides of highest proportion. The basic argument of the Abyssinian genocide denials has, however, remained the same as always—it never happened, the term “genocide” does not apply-it is a “reunification of Ethiopia.”  Recently, the tactics of denial of genocide has been shifted from “reunification of Ethiopia” to “holy war.”
Siidaa-Yaadannoo-Calanqoo-Calii-2014_8Abyssinians always avoid public discourse of the genocide at Aannolee, Azulee, and Chalanqoo believing that sooner or later in the course of time that generation would pass from the scene and their children would become acculturated and assimilated in the Abyssinian way of life and Abyssinian political thought and then the issue of genocide dies out and will be forgotten. However, what the Abyssinians forgot or failed to understand is that the genocide at Aannolee, Azulee, and Chalanqoo shapes not only the outlook of the immediate victims of the generation of the time but also of subsequent generations of the future. It is very important for the descendents of the perpetrators- the deniers of Oromo genocide to engage introspection to face and learn from their own history. It is time for the Nafxanyaas-the deniers of genocide to ask themselves question as to how that gross mass genocide could have occurred, instead of denying it and trying to maintain a false righteous self-image.
The Abyssinians are unable or unwilling to deal with the truth.  They have always refused to recognize the crimes committed against the peoples of the south, Oromo included as genocide.  Instead they elevated it to the level of a “holy war/qidus xorrinnat”; then took pride in it; identified with it, enthusiastically embraced it, glorified and glamorized it. This campaign is in support of their political and religious elites, scholars, governments, institutions, and individuals those who have been preaching genocide committed against Oromo and the south as a “reunification of Ethiopia.”
The Oromo Genocide and Tigrayans’ attempt to deny it
Today, the Tigrayan regime is behind the discussion of the past genocide to divert attention from itself, while it is committing genocide itself more dangerous than that of the past ones.  It has undertaken open and total war campaign against the Oromo people. It is vitally important, therefore, that we should focus our attention on current genocide the Tigrayan regime is committing, while at the same time reminding ourselves the genocide that the Amhara regime of Menelik II committed a century ago. The Amharas have been denying the genocide against the Oromo and other southern peoples that their regime of Menelik II committed and now the Tigrayans are also denying the genocide that their regime is committing.
The Amharas are simply dancing and singing to the ghost of Menelik II but they do not possess the means and capabilities to commit anther genocide. Today, it is the Tigrayan regime led by TPLF that is committing genocidal mass murder against the Oromo people; it is this regime that possesses the means and capabilities to commit genocide.  Its means are the army, paramilitary unit, the police force, special police or Liyyuu police, secret state agents, Death Squads, the bureaucratic and judicial system. All of these are already fully utilized for this purpose.
The sudden descend of the Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) upon Oromiyaa in 1991, set in a rapid motion a process to eliminate any opposition to its rule that culminate in the arrests, tortures and killings. Then since 1992, it has been carrying out a systematic, methodical, pre-planned, and centrally-organized genocidal mass murder against the Oromo people. Meles Zenawi was the notorious architect and organizer of policy of the Oromo genocide with his culprits and other thousands of perpetrators of genocide who are still implementing his policy after his death. His brutality against Oromo people has surpassed that of all his predecessors combined. His regime has erected concentration camps across Oromiyaa, camps such as Hursoo, Bilaattee, Dhidheessaa, Zuwaay, and Qalittii are the well known ones. But numerous other clandestine prison cells where the victims are eliminated have been established across the empire. The regime has openly undertaken a major Oromiyaa-wide persecution of Oromo. Hence Ordinary people, for the first time, being rounded up and sent to these clandestine centers for interrogation through torture. In the torture, few survived and many perished.
The pattern of destruction has been repeated over and over in different parts of Oromiyaa. Many of these repetitive destructions are far from the major cities; such repetition are a centrally design one. Further, reward structure set in place.  That reward is geared towards those who implement the policy. The regional governors and officials who refuses to carry out orders to annihilate the Oromo are summarily replaced as disloyal and OLF agent. Community leaders are arrested and persecuted. Many of women, children, and elderly run into forests and deserts to escape slaughter. Today, the Oromo people are in violent historical moment. They are the target of Tigrayan regime for physical extermination and forcible removal from their lands.  Hundreds of thousands have been killed; millions have been forced out from their lands and their lands haven been sold or leased to local and multination land-grabbers.
The Tigrayan regime has fully undertaken the implementation of the policy of Oromo extermination since 1992. The Amhara genocidal denialists are fully subscribed to this policy.  In the Tigrayan regime’s jails millions of Oromo perished as the result of starvation, disease, the harsh environment, and physical extermination.
We are the nation of heroes, heroines and victims. We were the victims of genocide yesterday and we are the victims of genocide today.  Yesterday, we were victims of genocide under Amhara successive regimes and today, we are victims of genocide under the Tigrayan regime. Indeed, we are a wounded and bled nation in our country by another nation- the Abyssinian nation.
We oftentimes say, never again to genocide in Oromiyaa. We say, the seeds of Aannolee, Azulee, and Chalanqoo must not be allowed to sprout again in Oromiyaa. And yet it has already sprout; violence is again around us; violence of genocide is still consuming our people. Menelik’s genocide at Aannolee, Azulee and Chalanqoo is reconstructed and renewed by Meles Zenawi and implemented Oromiyaa wide. Hence, the past genocide has now become the present new genocide. Hence, the dead Oromo are still dead; more are still dying; expropriated Oromoland is still expropriated; The pillaging of Oromiyaa is at its height and the colonized Oromiyaa is still colonized.
The way forward
The way forward is Oromo nationalists’ unity and the fight against occupation. For this, it is important to rebuild the Oromo Liberation Army (OLA) as superior mighty force both in quantity and quality to protect the population and secure liberation. This enables the nation to drive out the Tigrayan regime and establish independent Democratic Republic of Oromiyaa. Again, it is vitally important to remove Menelik’s statue from Oromiyaa; establish National Genocide Memorial Day for the victims of Aannolee, Azulee and Chalanqoo.  This Oromo Genocide Memorial Day should be established and observed annually while we are still fighting for independence. The date and the month must be different from Oromo Martyrs Day/Guyyaa Gootoota Oromoo.
Yaadannoo3No one escapes from the history of one’s people. For this, we should and must not allow the past to rest and to be forgotten.  Every generation must teach the succeeding generation about the past history, their heroes and heroines.  The past, the present as well as the future belong to the succeeding generations. Each new generation hold the entitlement of the past and the present. For this, the establishment of the Oromo Genocide Memorial Day is the order of the day that the marks of Aannolee, Azulee, and Chalanqoo Cannot be erased from the memory of successive Oromo generations.
Oromiyaa Shall Be Free!