The Macha-Tulama Association, the oldest Oromo civic organization, was legally founded in 1964 to promote the welfare (self-help) of the Oromo people in the areas of infrastructure development, economic growth, education and health. Soon after its foundation, however, the Abyssinian rulers of the Ethiopian empire banned the Macha-Tulama Association on the basis of their fear that an enlightened and self-sustaining Oromo region would be a danger to their unlimited exploitation of the Oromo people’s labor and the Oromo region’s resources. By their own admission, the goal of the Abyssinian rulers was to leave the Oromo people in a darker era, if possible by 100 years, behind Abyssinia.
In 1967 the Abyssinian rulers concocted a plot to frame the leaders of the Macha-Tulama Association and banned the organization, and arrested its leaders, such as Gen. Tadesse Birru, Lt. Mamo Mazamir, Lawyer Haile-Mariam Gemeda and others. Then, they paraded them in front of their kangaroo court and passed the decision to execute Gen. Tadesse Birru and Lt. Mamo Mazamir in 1968. Later, Gen. Tadesse Birru’s death sentence was changed to a life imprisonment. However, while Gen. Tadesse Birru was in prison, the 1974 Revolution erupted and brought about an Abyssinian change of regime in Oromia. That new regime, the Derg, still found Gen. Tadesse Birru’s pro-Oromo stance unbearable and executed him and his colleagues, such as Col. Hailu Regassa, in 1975.
The following is how the Monarchy reported its decision to murder the leaders of the Macha-Tulama Association in 1968 on its mouthpiece, “Addis Zemen” newspaper. Shortly after this report, Lt. Mamo Mazamir was hanged to death. Meanwhile, the ailing Lawyer Haile-Mariam Gemeda died in prison as a result of food poisoning. By “liquidating” these leaders of the Macha-Tulama Association and through the ban on the organization, it was assumed the Oromo people’s aspiration for justice and freedom would be extinguished once and for all, instead the Macha-Tulama movement grew into the Oromo national liberation movement of the last four decades.