So much for the "Ethiopia rising" meme which Ethiopian authorities ostentatiously promote to camouflage the repressive nature of the state.
new report published by Human Rights Watch on the Oromo protests depicts a disturbing picture of a government that thrives on systematic repression and official violence.
The report, which puts the death toll from the seven-month-long protest at more than 400, exposes the "Ethiopia rising" narrative for what it is: a political Ponzi scheme.
Underneath the selective highlighting of Ethiopia's story of renaissance and transformation lies a Janus-faced reality in which the triumph of some has meant the utter submission of others.
The Oromo protests are exposing the senseless suffering and brutality that lies beneath Ethiopia's rhetoric of development and revival.

Long-simmering ethnic discontents

After 25 years of absolute control over the country's public life, the ruling party is facing its biggest political challenge yet: an unconventional and innovative resistance to its iron-fisted rule.
What is unfolding in the drama of this increasingly defiant and unprecedented protest is the subplot that producers and cheerleaders of the "Ethiopia rising" myth neither anticipated nor fully understood: the power of the indignant to wreak havoc and paralyse the state even as they were met with murderous official violence.
Though the protest was initially triggered by the threat of displacement by Ethiopia's development policies - particularly the proposed expansion of the territorial limits of the capital, Addis Ababa, into neighbouring Oromo lands - this is not the sole reason and cannot provide an adequate explanation of the level of defiance on the streets of Oromia.
Rather, the protest is a manifestation of long-simmering ethnic discontent and deeper crisis of representation that pushed Oromos to the margin of the country's political life.
Despite a rare concession by the authorities to cancel the "master plan", the protest is still ongoing, demanding genuine political reforms aimed at an equitable reorganisation and overhauling of existing frameworks and arrangements of power in the country.
Protesters argue that the prevailing arrangements with the ethnically mixed morphology of the Ethiopian state, in which ethnic Tigray elites dominate all aspects of public life, are not only undemocratic, they are also an existential threat to the peaceful co-existence of communities in the future.

The Oromo question

As the single largest ethnic group in a multi-ethnic country in which ethnicity is the pre-eminent form of political organising and mobilisation, the prevailing arrangement presents a particularly unique and challenging problem for the Oromo.
According to the 2007 Ethiopian National Census, Oromos constitute 34.49 percent of the population while Tigray, the politically dominant ethnic group, represents 6.07 percent of the total population. The real figure for the Oromo people is much higher.

"The silence of the international community in the face of consistent reports raising alarms about systematic and widespread atrocities is deafening."