June 4, 2012 at 11:52 pm · Gadaa.com
(OromoPress.blogspot.com) – Claire Beston, from Amnesty International U.K., spoke at a human rights forum organized by the DMV OCO on June 2, 2012. Claire Beston is one of the AI researchers behind the famous report titled, “Dismantling Dissent..“, a well articulated and researched report on the state’s crackdown on free speech in Oromia and Ethiopia. Ms. Beston is a courageous and non-partisan human rights worker who had the balls to defy the Ethiopian government’s surveillance and decided to meet with the two leading Oromo national opposition leaders, Bekele Gerba and Olbana Lelisa. Bekele Gerba is the Deputy Chairman of the Oromo Federalist Democratic Movement (OFDM), and Olbana Lelisa was the leader of the Oromo People’s Congress (ONC).
The arrest and detention of these top OFDM and ONC leaders and over a 100 other Oromos were documented in Dismantling Dissent. As a result of meeting with these two leading Oromo opposition politicians/stalwarts, Claire Beston was mistreated and expelled from Oromia and Ethiopia; and AI work remains obstructed by the overly insecure and secretive Ethiopian totalitarian regime. By dismantling all forms of Oromo opposition today, just like it dismantled the OLF in the 1990s from peaceful and electoral politics, the Ethiopian state validates the fear of the Oromo people that armed struggle or a struggle of self-defense for self-determination is the only viable option to achieve freedom. Amnesty does an excellent job of giving name to oft nameless senior Oromian political leaders. Often, Oromo political prisoners are the most forgotten and nameless in the Ethiopian gulags, concentration camps and prisons.
Tens of thousands of Oromo political prisoners (sometimes called 99 percent of Ethiopian prison system) are overshadowed by the prominence given to a handful of Amahara opposition leaders, who often are the ones who get international awards for opposition politics or press freedom in the name of Ethiopia. It should concern all Oromos that prominent Oromo political prisoners always remain only nameless or secondary to Abyssinians in international reporting in the news. Abyssinian diaspora activists do not care much for Oromo political prisoners as they are busy making exclusively famous the likes of Eskinder Nega or Andualem Arage. Oromo politicians don’t exist to activists of Amhara persuasion. Most importantly, the Oromo diaspora is to blame for not rallying behind its lammii (citizens). Amnesty deserves credit for naming those opposition leaders who are falsely accused of having connections with the OLF and exposed to severe abuses.