Tuesday, August 30, 2016
By Engidu Woldie
August 30, 2016
The blue skies over the city of Bahir Dar were covered in smokes on Monday, on this deadly day of protest against TPLF oligarchy, as people in the Amhara region of Gondar and Gojam intensified their defiance against the Tigrayan minority rule. Trails of smokes were rising all day into the skies of the city of Bahir Dar as protesters burnt tires on the streets and set ablaze businesses affiliated with the regime as well as houses of officials and spies of the regime.
Several towns and localities in the Amhara region were declared free of the control of the TPLF regime and the people in these areas have established their interim administration and security led by religious figures and elders.
In Gondar, between Hamusit and Wereta, on a bridge called Gumara, 7 members of the federal police and 4 farmers were killed in a gun battle on Monday. Four people were also reportedly killed by regime forces in Simada.
The stay-at-home protest in Bahir Dar turned into a street protest when regime forces attacked a group of vigilante youth who were raising funds and helping the poor in the city. The residents then took to the streets and burned tires and attacked businesses affiliated with the regime. At least four people were shot and killed by regime forces in Bahir Dar on Monday and several others were wounded.
Main roads connecting Bahir Dar, the political and business hub of northern Ethiopia and the seat of the Amhara regional government, were closed on Monday and gunfire could be heard all day, according to sources who spoke to ESAT. High ranking officials of the region and their families flew to Addis Ababa on Monday, according to a source who spoke to ESAT.
Details are scanty but in Tis Abay, in a place called Genji, 30 kms from Bahir Dar, armed farmers have engaged regime forces in gun battle.
In Meshenti town, two horticultural farms were set on fire by protesters, turning the flower fields into ashes. One
person is feared dead in Meshaenti in Monday’s protest. The town of Merawi declared itself free from the TPLF rule as local officials and police have left the town. Protesters burnt the houses of the officials and police as well as businesses affiliated with the TPLF.
Similarily, in Dangla, protesters burnt houses and businesses belonging to the local administrators and search by the protesters into the house of a notorious police known for his cruelty found that he has hidden 50 quintals of sugar, 50 containers of edible oil as well as 4 weapons. Residents set the officer’s house and vehicle on fire. Also burnt to the ground was a house belonging to a member of the TPLF who shot and injured several people.
In Gondar, Amba Giorgis, residents stopped a truck loaded with 500 cases of beer, dump the beer and used the plastic cases to block the highway. Two trucks carrying 32 cattle were also stopped at Amba Giorgis. The trucks were let go after the residents confiscated the cattle. The beer and cattle trucks were targeted by the protesters as the businesses belong to the regime business empire.
In Belesa, armed farmers in 11 buses were heading to Maksegnit to back up the residents of the town who were under attack by regime forces. A standoff ensued and continued for hours on Monday when regime forces stopped the buses.
North Gondar, South Gondar, West Gojam, Awi and East Gojam are areas in the Amhara region that were freed from TPLF control over the weekend. Protesters in theses towns and localities have replaced the regime flag with the Ethiopian flag.
The regime meanwhile sent over 2000 Agazi Special Forces to the Amhara region over the weekend to squash the ongoing protest. The people in the Amhara region were alerted on the coming of the forces and they have blocked main highways reaching several towns in the region.
What began few weeks ago as a protest against the forceful incorporation of the people of Wolkait, Tegede and Telemt, and their land into the Tigray region has now grown into a demand for the removal of the brutal regime in Addis Ababa, where Tigrayans control every aspect of the lives of the people. Protesters in Amhara and Oromo regions demand for the end of a complete domination of the country by one ethnic group that represents only 5% of the population.
At least 700 people in the Oromo region and 200 in the Amhara have been brutally murdered by TPLF forces.
Tuesday, August 23, 2016
As Feyisa Lilesa crossed the finish line to win silver for Ethiopia in the men’s marathon on Sunday, he crossed his arms above his head in solidarity with the protests currently rocking his home country. This is only the most visible act on world stage of the anti-government movement gaining steam in Ethiopia and one that has kept Lilesa from returning home after the Rio Olympic games for fear of official retaliation.
Thursday, August 18, 2016
Since November 2015, Ethiopia has been experiencing a wave of anti-government protests unleashed by fears by the Oromo people that the government was planning to seize their land. Hundreds of people have been killed.
In early August, anti-government demonstrations rocked the Oromia and Amhara regional states of Ethiopia. Thousands of demonstrators went on to the streets calling on the government to stop killing protesters, release those arrested, implement political reform, and respect justice and the rule of law. However, the response from government security forces, which used live ammunition against protesters, led to the death of about 100 unarmed people.
Although the government security apparatus reported that the demonstrations had been contained, "the current political situation has become volatile. Things are fast changing and developments have become increasingly unpredictable," according to analyst Tsegaye R. Ararssa. Activists are said to be busy devising alternative methods of protest that range from weakening government institutions through staying at home and not operating businesses to organizing a Diaspora-based "grand solidarity rally."
Change of tactics
In the town of Gondar in the state of Amhara, where the first demonstration took place, residents resorted to a new mode of protest - staying at home. A resident of the town, talking on condition of anonymity, told Deutsche Welle that from last Sunday to Tuesday the streets were deserted. Workers stayed at home and stores remained closed.
Asked why the public had opted for this type of protest, the man said "it is clear that society has demanded an answer from the government, but the response was one of bullets in return, so the public decided to launch a stay-at-home strike."
For Tsegaye, this peaceful method of protest demonstrates "a complete rejection of the regime by the people. It also blunts the regime's false claims that the protests were violent. The stay-at-home protest is an indication of the increasing maturity of civil disobedience in Ethiopia."
Residents in both the Oromia and Amhara regions say that it is becoming increasingly difficult to get an internet connection and access to social media tools has been blocked. "The only way to get through is by using proxy servers," one resident of Gondar told DW.
In a recent interview with Al Jazeera, Ethiopia's Communications Affairs Minister Getachew Reda claimed that that social media had been used "to churn out false information after false information, mostly seditious remarks, trying to agitate people against security forces and also against fellow brothers and sisters." The administration therefore decided to gag "the kind of vitriol running over social media," he said.
However, political pundits argue that the state move to censor the internet places a strain on political discourse and the sharing of information. Despite the fact that the country has less than three percent of internet access, there are growing numbers of news and opposition websites which the regime is notorious for blocking.
Aid from the West
The Ethiopian government receives some 3.5 billion dollars (3 billion euros) annually from international donors and has remained a key strategic partner of the West, particularly the US and the EU, in the 'war against terror.' However, analysts argue this financial support has been toughening the regime's resolve to silence dissenting voices. The western approach of tiptoeing around human right violations in the country and its continued support for the regime has been stirring up anger among sections of the public.
Tsegaye says that US and EU "support of the regime - which they know is clearly undemocratic - is the very cause of the state terrorism we observe in the region."
A recent editorial in The Washington Post argues that the Obama administration, beyond releasing their "deeply concerned” statements, should put pressure on the regime to allow for “credible investigation into the killings." Following the demonstrations in the two regions, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein, urged the Ethiopian government to "give access to international observers in the affected areas to establish what really happened."
In an interview with DW, Ravina Shamdasani, spokesperson for the commissioner, said restrictions on internet access, the blocking of social media and lack of civil society organizations in the country have made it difficult to verify reports of deaths and casualties.
Mohammed Said, public relations officer with Ethiopia's Communications Affairs Office, told DW that the government had its own system of checks and balances and the country's own Human Rights Commission was doing its job in investigating and publicizing the human rights situation in the country.
For analyst Tsegaye, this shows that the regime "is still in denial of the injustice its policies have resulted in." The Ethiopian government now has the opportunity to change its approach - otherwise, Ravina said, "if the situation is left to fester, there will be more outbursts, more unrest, more protests and perhaps more violence."
|Women wait to receive food at a distribution center in Gelcha village, one of the drought stricken areas of the Oromia region in Ethiopia, on April 28. Photo by Tiksa Negeri/Reuters|
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Sunday, August 14, 2016
Thursday, August 11, 2016
#OromoProtests in the last hearing we filed a complaint why the Federal court is seeing our case but no response- Bekele Gerba
በጸረ ሽብር ህጉ ተከሶ፣በዛሬዉ ዕለት የዕምነት ቃላቸዉን እንዲሰጡ የተቀጠሩት እነ ጉርሜሳ አያኔ በሀገሪቱ የህግ የበላይነት ብሎ ነገር እንደሌለና የኢትዮጵያን ፍርድ ቤት የወያኔ የገደል ማሚቶ መሆናቸዉን በሚያረጋግጥ መልኩ ቃላቸዉን ሳይሰጡ ከፍርድ ቤት ቅጥር ግቢ ወጥቷል፡፡
ሁሉንም የተከሾች ክርክር በዚህ ገጽ ማቅረብ እጅግ አዳጋች ስለሆነ፡፡ጥቂቶቹን ብቻ ለማካፈል ተገደናል፡፡
ጥፋቱን ፈፅመዋል ወይስ አልፈጸሙም? ተብለዉ መጀመሪያ በመሃል ዳኛ የተጠየቁት ‘’ኦቦ ጉርሜሳ አያኖ’’ ነበሩ፣ኦቦ ጉርሜሳም ሲመልሱ ‘’ክሱ ግልፅ አልሆነልኝም እኔ ፖለቲከኛ ስሆን የመድረክ ፓርቲ-አባል ነኝ፡፡የእኛ ፓርቲ ህገመንግስቱን ተከትሎ የተቋቋመ ህጋዊ ፓርቲ ነዉ፡፡የተከሰስኩት ግን የኦነግ አባል ነህ በሚል ነዉ፣እኔ እስከማዉቀዉ አንድ ሰዉ የሁለት ድርጅት አባል መሆን አይችልም፡፡ይሄ ክስ መንግስት መሬቴን አሳልፌ አልሰጥም ያለዉን የኦሮሞን ህዝብ በጅምላ አሸባሪ ብሎ እየከሰሰ ነዉ ያለዉ ስለዚህ ቃሌን ለዚህ ፍ/ቤት አልሰጥም’’፡፡ቀጠለ ኦቦ ደጀኔ ጣፋ ‘’የኢትዮጵያ ፍ/ቤት በግልፅ ህገመንግስቱን እያፈረሰ ያለ ተቋም ስለሆነ ለዚህ ፍ/ቤት ቃሌን አልሰጥም፣ከአሁን ወዲህም ወደዚህ ፍ/ቤት መምጣት አልፈልግም፣ዉሳኔዉም ግልጽ ስለሆነ ባለሁበት ሆኜ ይድረሰኝ!የኢትዮያ ህዝብ ግን እኛ ላይ የተፈጠመዉን በደል እንዲያዉቅልን እፈልጋለሁ’’፡፡
‘’አዲሱ ቡላላም’’ በተራዉ ‹‹የደረሰኝ ክስ የሚመስል ድርሰት ግራ አጋብቶኛል፡፡እኔ የመድረክ ፓርቲ እንጂ የኦነግ አባል አይደለሁም፣ለህዝቤ ብዬ በአደረግኩት ነገር በሙሉ ደስተኛ ነኝ፣በእ በአዲሱ ስም የተመሰረተዉ ክስ በኦሮሞ ላይ የተመሰረተ ክስ መሆኑን መሆኑን ሁሉም ሰዉ እንዲያዉቅልኝ እፈልጋለሁ፤ እኔ ለዚህ ፍትህ አልባ ፍ/ቤት ቃሌን መስጠት አልፈልግም ተመካክራችሁ ዉሳኔዉን ባለሁበት አድርሱኝ››!
‘’በቀለ ገርባ’’ ሲናገር ‹‹ባለፈዉ ቀጠሮ የክስ መቃወሚያችን ላይ ወንጀሉ ተፈጸመ የተባለዉ ኦሮሚያ ክልል ሆኖ ሳለ ለምን በፌዴራል መንግስት እንዳኛለን?! በክልላችን በቋንቋችን እንዳኝ ብለን አቤቱታ አቅርበን ነበር ቢሆንም የሰማን የለም፡፡እኛን ግን ገብቶናል ለምን ክሳችን በፌዴራል እንዲታይ እንደተደረገ፣ፍ/ቤቱ በተጻፈለት መሰረት ሊፈርድብን ነዉ፡፡ይሄ ፍ/ቤት ታዞ እንደሚሰራ ከዚህን በፊት ስምንት አመት ያለጥፋቴ ተፈርዶብኝ እኔ በራሴ ህይዎት ችግሩ ደርሶብኝ አይቻለሁ ስለዚህ ለዚህ ፍ/ቤት ቃሌን አልሰጥም››
ቀጠሉ ከኦሮሚያ ክልል የመጡ እሳት የላሱ የእዉነት አምደኞች፡፡አንዱ ‹‹ጨለማ ዉስጥ ሆኜ ምንም ማዉረት አልፈልግም››
ሌላዉ ‹‹የህግ የበላይነት ባልተረጋገጠበት ሀገር ላይ ሆኜ ለባስልጣናት ለሚታዘዝ ፍ/ቤት ቃሌን አልሰጥም››፡፡አንዱም እንዲሁ ተጠራና ተነሳ ‹‹እኛ ላይ የታወጀዉ የዘርማጥፋት ወንጀል ነዉ ስለዚህ ለዚህ ፍ/ቤት ቃሌን መስጠት አልችልም››
፣ሌላዉም ቀጠለ ‹‹የተከሰስኩት ኦሮሞ በመሆኔ ብቻ ነዉ››፡፡አሁንም ሌላኛዉ ሲጠየቅ አለ ‹‹የዘረኝነት በሽታ ያለባቸዉ ሰዎች ናቸዉ ያለትፋቴ የከሰሱኝ ቃሌን አልሰጥም››!ፍ/ቤቱ በዚህና በመሰል ከበባድ የእዉነት ቃሎች ልክ-ልኩ ተነግሮት ችሎቱ ተጠናቀቀ!
Tuesday, August 2, 2016
By Pesha Magid
An Oromo asylum seeker died in Cairo last week after attempting to help two men who set themselves on fire during a protest in front of a United Nations office.
The protest outside the UNHCR’s office in 6th of October City called for the UN refugee agency to end its alleged discriminatory treatment of Oromo refugees.
Most Oromo refugees in Egypt come from Ethiopia, where they make up the largest ethnic group. The Ethiopian government responded to Oromo protests with violence late last year, intensifying an ongoing crackdown against them. Human Rights Watch estimated in June that over 400 Oromo have been killed since November 2015, with thousands injured, tens of thousands arrested and hundreds forcibly disappeared.
Mohamed Ademo, a Washington DC-based Oromo journalist, who has been following the case closely, told Mada Masr that Asli Nure was injured while trying to help two men who were later hospitalized, whose identities remain unknown.
Video footage of the incident was shared on social media, showing large amounts of smoke and people screaming.
The UNHCR released a statement saying it, “deeply regrets the tragic passing of an Ethiopian Oromo asylum-seeker on 26 July 2016, following a violent incident outside UNHCR office in Cairo.” The statement made no reference to the protest.
The UNHCR office will be closed until next week. The UN agency’s spokesperson Tarik Artaz told Mada Masr the closure is a temporary measure to guarantee the safety of staff members and asylum seekers coming to the offices.
Artaz says UNHCR security staff helped extinguish the fire and transported the injured to hospital. The office is working closely with hospital staff and the authorities in relation to the incident, he adds.
But Ademo claims the response from the UNHCR was lacking.
“It is even more tragic that the UNHCR's response to all of this is to close its office. The appropriate course of action should have been to thoroughly investigate protesters’ grievances and what led to this deadly episode,” he says.
When asked about how the UNHCR is addressing Oromo concerns they are being discriminated against, with their applications for refugee status commonly either ignored or denied, Artaz says the agency is in touch with Oromo community figures concerning their grievances, but would not disclose any details.
Artaz and the UNHCR as a whole categorically deny Oromo refugees face any discriminatory treatment. “We process every claim according to UNHCR standard procedures. I want to stress that it’s an individual process and not a group-based approach,” says Artaz.
But Oromo community leaders have been saying for months that they face unfair treatment. Abdul Kadir, the secretary general of Oromo Refugees Egypt, a community organizing center for Oromo refugees, first spoke to Mada Masr in April about Oromo protests at the UNHCR office in Cairo, which continued for a couple of weeks. At the time Kadir and his organization had just begun negotiations with the UNHCR and they have since taken a step back from active protests. But he says palpable anger against the UNHCR remains.
“Many Oromo are rejected. Every week it’s 40 to 50 people who are rejected. More than 99 percent have been rejected, so people are angry, they are not happy with the UNHCR,” he claims.
Kadir says many Oromo refugees in Cairo have been accused by the Ethiopian government of belonging to the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF). The OLF is an armed group that was designated a terrorist organization by Ethiopia’s parliament in 2011. According to HRW, while the group has minimal military capacity, its existence is often used by the Ethiopian government to justify the repression of Oromo.
Many Oromo refugees in Cairo are either connected to the OLF or accused of connections, Kadir says, meaning they are unable to return to Ethiopia amid the ongoing crackdown.
He attributes the large number of rejected applications from Oromo for refugee status to the similar stories they tell, which he says makes UNHCR officials suspicious. However, he adds that many Oromo refugees wait years for a response after their initial status determination interviews with the UNHCR, in comparison to the average 20 months the UNHCR promises.
Feven Basada has been waiting for almost three years for the result of her refugee status interview. She says the stress of not knowing has caused her to become sick and unable to work, and that she is only able to survive because of the support of her church.
Basada left Ethiopia because her family was being targeted by the government. “I don’t know if anyone is alive or not,” she says. “You don’t have anyone. You don’t have a country, you don’t have anything. That’s why I have this sickness,” she adds. Basada lives alone, and often, when she calls the UNHCR office, no one answers. “I want to live like a human being, it is very hard … very difficult for women especially.”
Marwa Hashem, assistant public information officer for the UNHCR in Cairo, told Mada Masr that each refugee application has to be evaluated on an individual basis and the agency works with over 181,000 asylum seekers and refugees, which may explain the long wait. Hashem adds that staff shortages and increasing numbers of asylum seekers have made agency efforts to reduce the wait time difficult.
“Cases of asylum seekers with specific vulnerabilities may be adjudicated faster than others under certain circumstances, based on identified needs in each case,” Hashem explained, adding that the UNHCR does not discriminate against groups of people based on affiliation or ethnicity.
But others who work in the field disagree. A source from an international refugee organization told Mada Masr anonymously that he often sees Syrian refugees take priority over other groups.
“It's been my experience that pretty much all refugee organizations right now have a dual focus — one for Syrian refugees and one for non-Syrian refugees. People will look at meeting a quota for non-Syrians, and they will dedicate half of their resources to Syrians,” he explains.
He says that the reason for this is a combination of the large influx of Syrian refugees into Egypt and funding priorities. In a world of tight funding, he explains, organizations have to make choices in order to cover their costs.
Whether or not this is the case, Oromo refugees are beginning to feel hopeless, according to Ademo.
“The depth of their frustration and grievance with lengthy procedures that keep ending in rejection is heartbreaking. The desperation has already led dozens to perish in the Mediterranean while attempting to reach Europe,” he says. A boat crossing the Mediterranean Sea from Egypt to Europe capsized in April and at least 400 refugees, largely from Somalia, Eritrea and Ethiopia, drowned.
Ademo says many Oromo still in Cairo feel hopeless and “some have publicly suggested they have nothing left to lose, and may set themselves alight.”