In 2016 the #OromoProtest that erupted in April 2014 and intensified in 2015 continued with huge landmarks on the way. The Tigray People Liberation Front killed over 500 on demonstrations across Oromia throughout the year. They killed sons and ordered mothers to sit on the deceased.
European Parliament passed a 19 point Resolution in support of the Oromo and other nationals human right demanding Ethiopian government to investigate extrajudicial killings of Oromos and others, see here. The United States issued several statements demanding the Ethiopian government to exercise restraint and to allow peaceful protests and democratic rights, see here. US issued travel warnings to Ethiopia, see here. African Union issued statement on #OromoProtests expressing concern and calling all parties involved for restraint, see here.
Athlete Feyisa Lelisa showed his support for #OromoProtest at Rio Olympics when he finished the Marathon clenching silver medal on the final day of the Olympics which attracted global attention flooding global media with the news, here. Feyisa raised his wrists and crossed in X style-a symbol of Oromos peaceful protest. Feyisa could not go back to Ethiopia for fear of reprisal from the government and sought asylum in the USA.
In August 2016 the Amharas joined the #OromoProtest due to an Amhara land annexed by Tigray region.
On September 3, 2016 TPLF prison guards set Qilinto prison on fire killing over 60 political prisoners in which the government admitted over 23 died. Prisoners were burnt alive and when they tried to escape, the military fired on them killing scores. Later in the year, the government accused prisoners themselves as the perpetrators despite the fact that prisoners do not have access to fire.
On October 2, 2016 the government tried to maneuver the Irrecha Oromo ThanksGiving Festival by replacing the genuine and elected Abba Gadas by an ex-Abba Gada to make the blessings and to disseminate pro government propaganda which was vehemently objected by the festival attendees. The government deployed Tigraayan manned helicopters to the skies of Bishoftu where the Irrecha Festival was celebrated and distributed leaflets from the air. The festival turned to protest due to the interference by the government and deployment of the military. The federal police and the military started shooting teargases and live bullets to the attendants initiating stamped that resulted in people falling into lurking ditches and the Hora Arsadi Lake. Overall, over 678 attendants died some of whom by live bullets. The government admitted the killing of 50 attendants. The day marked the darkest day of the struggle.
On Oct 8, 2016 : Following the #IrrechaMassacre, Ethiopian (EPRDF) government declared a State of Emergency due to the countrywide protest (the #OromoProtests and #AmharaResistance) legalizing arbitrary arrest and imprisonment, killing, looting of properties, searching without court warrant and impounding properties, and imposed sanctions and curfews. The State of Emergency is followed by arrest and imprisonment of hundreds of thousands at concentration camps. The government admitted imprisoning over 12067.
November 30, 2016, the government arrested Dr Marara Gudina who was going back from Brussels after meeting with EU Parliament with Athlete Fayisa Lelisa and Professor Birhanu Naga, here. The government first accused him of violating the State of Emergency for talking about the protest especially with the leader of an outlawed opposition Ginbot 7, Prof Birhanu. Later, they upgraded the accusation to meeting with an organization designated as “terrorist ” by Ethiopia’s infamous “anti-terror” proclamation. Still Dr Marara languishes in jail along with his comrades – Oromo political leaders such as Baqale Garba, Olbana Lelisa, Addisu Bulala, Yonatan Tasfaye and other tens of thousands.
UN Human Right’s Council called on Ethiopian government to allow independent commission to investigate into the #IrrechaMassacre and other killings and imprisonments,see here and here. The Ethiopian government refused to allow UNHRC from conducting the investigation but instead it organized its own investigation commission that confirmed the killing of over 190 citizens. However, the commission concluded the killings were appropriate.
Several times the government had admitted the Oromo have genuine grievances that the government pledged to address. Some of the changes the government made included scrapping of the Addis Ababa and Finfine Area Oromo Towns Integrated Master Plan the reason for the eruption of the protest, sacking OPDO officials and replacing them with other loyal members, and reshuffling ministerial positions none of which appeased the Oromo.
The diaspora Oromos held several demonstrations in support of the #OromoProtests demanding foreign governments to withdraw their support and aids to the anti-democratic government of Ethiopia dominated by a minority Tigreyan warlords and elites. In addition, the Oromo diaspora held three major conferences in London (The Oromo Lawyers Council Conference), in Atlanta (Oromo Leaders Convention) and in Minnesota (Oromo Activists Conference). The former two crafted documents and preambles while the latter focused on coordination of activism.
Overall, the role of the diaspora and armed political organizations have been minuscule in directly dealing with government that is committing ethnic cleansing due to gaps in strong leadership. After 40 years of organized struggle a single zone is yet to be liberated and no political organization is well known at international stage for its strong activities. However, the political organizations continue to claim the #OromoProtests as one of their own victories which was not denied by Qeerroo leaders either.
Dandi Oromia had been less active on this website due to other activities and other social media activism consuming a lot of the time for which we apologize. We promise to continue to cover news from Oromia in the new year 2017.
We wish you a happy,healthy, prosperous and successful New Year 2017!
May the New Year, 2017 be a year of Victory for the Qerroo Oromos and Oromo Mass, a Year of Freedom for Oromo Prisoners of Conscience and a Year of Unity for Oromo Political Organizations!