Oromia: The Path to Freedom and Independence Wednesday, 07.18.2012, 05:57am (GMT)
The struggle of any society is determined by its causes, its political nature, and the core objectives it sets out to achieve. In this era of catastrophic destruction, human suffering and total disregard for human rights, the terms slavery, colonialism and genocide are superficially defined and given a distorted view in order to conceal their devastating impacts on the victimized peoples around the world. For people who are living under occupation in colonized and enslaved society, the pain is real, and its burden consists of suffering. Unbearable, humiliating, and endless suffering. As seen time and time again throughout history, when the people of a nation come under occupation, it is natural for them to put up resistance against the occupying forces because there is no alternative to human dignity and freedom.
The Oromo people, who have known horror, violence, destruction, and despair under successive Ethiopian (Abyssinian) colonial regimes, are no exception. Since the late 19th century, the Oromos have been locked up in a fight against the Ethiopian colonialism, whose fundamental tenet is to dispossess and brutally suppress them, and exploit their land and resources at will. It is a historical fact that, despite the occupiers’ attempts to stifle their freedom movement, the Oromos have never recognized Abyssinian colonial entities in their territory. Rather, they have put up resistance throughout the entire colonial period — and continue to do so to this very day.
After the demise of the Derg military regime in 1991, the U.S and other Western nations supported the Tigrai People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) in its push to be the heir to the Ethiopian empire, with a view to replacing the Amhara rule of yesteryear with that of the minority, Tigrean elites. Historically, Tigrean elites had been junior colonial partners of the Amharas, and had shared and shaped the colonial empire, and enjoyed all the privileges that colonialism had brought with it. In order to pursue the continuation of the colonial agenda, the TPLF has chosen to rule the empire with brutal force — and to occupy entire nations and nationalities, primarily by means of military terrorism, economic wars, social control, and physical elimination of peoples.
In addition to the unspeakable crimes and repressive measures perpetrated by its Abyssinian predecessors against the Oromo nation for more than a century, the TPLF is now expanding the scope of its wars, beyond mere occupation and exploitation, and aiming for the total extermination of Oromo society. The TPLF imposed a reign of terror and genocide in Oromiyaa. Genocide is the ultimate act of war against defenseless people for the aim, for it seeks to occupy, dispossess, exploit, and physically eliminate its victims, thereby denying them a means of survival. At this point, it is essential to highlight the few documented genocidal and ethnic cleansing projects of TPLF in Oromiyaa, the Ogaden, and the southern part of the empire.
The burning of the Oromiyaa
The burning of forests in Oromiyaa in the year 2000 proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that genocide is a political tool of the Tigrean regime. With the aim of weakening the Oromo socio-economic and political bases, and to consolidating its colonial grip on Oromiyaa, the TPLF set fire to all corners of the Oromo nation in order to “flush out” the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF), bringing about incalculable physical and economic destruction, and in its wake, leaving thousands of slaughtered Oromos throughout Oromiyaa. The Oromiyaa forests are home to numerous wild animals, giant trees of aesthetic and medicinal values, and the source of many rivers, streams, and creeks. It is also home to exotic birds and irreplaceable rare animals.It was a well-planned act of genocide, as the fires were systematically set in the forests during the dry season, resulting in wholesale consumption of farms, livestock, wild animals, homes, and wild fruits and vegetables.
This cruel and deliberate terrorist act of arson by the TPLF wreaked immense damage in the entire region – damage that is beyond all human imagination as it accelerated the incidence of drought, soil erosion, and environmental degradation, which have in turn led to food crisis, hunger, disease, and the death of millions of people and various kinds of animals. The results are devastating for the whole region, with the endless mass starvation which continues to grow with ever passing year. Oromiyaa, at one time the breadbasket of the region, was hit by hunger, disease, and abject poverty. This was especially shocking for land that had enjoyed an abundance of nearly everything. The immediate demands of Oromo university and high school students, who volunteered to help extinguish the fires, were flatly denied – causing rage and resulting in demonstrations throughout Oromiyaa. The fascist regime retaliated by launching military attacks in which it deployed its terrorizing and murderous forces to contain, brutalize, and silence the demonstrating teachers, students, and the public at large. These attacks took place in Walisso, Ambbo, Wallo, Hararggee, and Dambii-Dooloo, to mention a few major areas. Hundreds of thousands of Oromo students and teachers were imprisoned, tortured, or murdered in cold-blood, just for demanding their national rights. Under the same pretext, the TPLF also set fire to the regional states of the Ogaden and Sidama forests simultaneously, causing similar destruction that was taking place in Oromiyaa on humans, animals, and materials, in order to perpetuate its colonial domination in the Ogaden and Sidama states.
Massacre of the Oromo
The Tigrean regime, which has always thirsted for the blood, land, and resources of the Oromo people, has sought, not only to strip them of their wealth, but also to systematically obliterate the physical and social bases of the Oromo society and to turn Oromiyaa into a permanent Tigrean domain. To speed up that process, the tyrannical regime of Meles Zenawi had agitated, organized, and armed its militias from the Beneshangal Gumuz region state to wage a calculated war of extermination against the Oromo people. The barbaric massacre of Oromos in 2008, an organized mass murder of people on unarmed rural communities in western Oromiyaa, was the most gruesome episode of genocide and ethnic cleansing openly waged against the Oromo society. The carnage, which lasted for several days, began in the early morning of May 17, 2008, when the TPLF’s militias in Gumuz surrounded entire villages in Eastern Wolagaa and engaged in wanton massacre. Many Oromos were gunned down by automatic weapons, semi-automatic weapons, and AK47s. Others were severely wounded, and some suffered mutilations of arms and legs. Male genitals were cut off and put on public display. Human and animal corpses were left out in the open to be eaten by scavengers. Hundreds of thousands of people were displaced — and enormous stretches of land, including many homes, were destroyed during the course of this horrifying murder of innocent people. The TPLF knew at the outset that it would be impossible to occupy and exploit Oromiyaa without outside support, local collaboration, and incitement of animosity on the part of ethnic groups from areas surrounding its borders. For some time now, the regime has employed vicious divide-and-conquer tactics to stir up enmity between the Somalis, the Gedeo, the Sidama (to name a few) on one hand, and the Oromos on the other. For centuries, the Oromo people have lived with their neighbours in harmony, and mutual and social interactions that have benefited them all.
In another case of horrific crimes against humanity, this time in 2004, the Meles regime mercilessly massacred the Anuak people by direct participation of its army and police in order to vacate their land and make it available for mineral explorations by foreign companies. The Anuak people suffered greatly from the displacement and the loss of lives. TPLF Colonial Education Policy With the intent to keep the Oromos illiterate, the TPLF, the party of genocide, has limited the maximum educational level in Oromiyaa to Tenth Grade. This scheme of education and cultural genocide used by the TPLF, which surpasses that of the former South African apartheid system, was designed to control the minds and physical capacity of Oromo youth by use of sub-standard educational system and to turn them into easily manipulable tools — indeed, into virtual slaves — and leave them in permanent ignorance.
Moreover, it has rendered masses vulnerable to exploitation and abuses by the enemy, who is hell-bent on robbing them of their resources and their future. As such, it is an act that has shackled the brains of the Oromo people as a whole, depriving them of self-esteem, progress, and development for generations to come. Education is a fundamental right of every human being, but this has not been the case under the tyrannical colonial Abyssinian regimes that have imposed restrictions on education in Oromiyaa, thereby relegating the Oromos to slave labor — and in the case of the Meles regime, force them to serve as cannon fodder in the mercenary-style wars of aggression in Eritrea and Somalia. Ibsaa Gutamma, an Oromo scholar, in his article, “Long Sabotaged of Oromo Education Opportunities” wrote of the impact of the colonial education system, “Limiting the sphere of Oromo knowledge and their freedom … is not something casual but [an integral] part of [the] colonial genetic making that has been running from the beginning to this day. Oromiyaans will never stop demanding … better treatment and access to knowledge until they take their destiny into their [own] hands … Colonizers will continue to designing schools that put [the] children of Oromiyaa at the tail of [the] colonial order.”
To the Tigrean elites, what the Oromos want is irrelevant, the only thing that’s important is to focus on what Oromos should be. The TPLF’s debilitating education policy is destroying the minds of the children before they even reach grade school. Frederick Douglass, an American social reformer, wrote: “No man can be truly free whose liberty is dependent upon the thought, feeling, and action of others.” The Oromo leadership has a responsibility to educate today’s youth about this so that it can bring about a better future for the entire Oromo nation by liberating it from occupation. At this point, it is important to note that the genocidal projects of the fascist Meles regime are more dangerous than the world seems to think. The ongoing takeover of the Oromo people’s land via sale and lease to foreign governments and global corporations clearly exposes the regime’s Nazi-style “final solution”: to eradicate the Oromo people and to deny the historical existence of Oromiyaa. Meles’ invitations to foreign “investors” from the Arab world, Asia, Europe, and other parts of Africa to buy or lease Oromo land are an insidious sign of extremely inhumane war of genocide being waged against the Oromo society.
This is a naked banditry in the 21st century. It is under the guise of orchestrated economic development that the racist regime of Meles Zenawi is speeding up the process of extermination and ethnic cleansing, a process that was designed to convert Oromos from being owners of the land of their ancestors to being landless tenants and day laborers for now-wealthy Tigrean elites and their colonial partners. Thousands of Oromos in farming communities are being forcibly evicted from the land on which their families have lived for generations — forced to vacate lush Oromo land so that it can be sold or leased to foreign governments or companies — just as land that belongs to Oromos in other areas has already been earmarked for transfer to Abyssinian settlers. For Meles Zenawi, the goal is to exterminate Oromos and take full control of Oromiyaa, while for the foreign colonial allies, it is to extract exorbitant profits from Oromo land at the expense of misery and destruction of the Oromo society.
For Oromos, who are victims of this conspiratorial genocide, the loss of ownership of their land is tantamount to a loss of everything in their possession. The right to use their land to farm, produce and consume has been taken away from them, and their legitimate aspirations have been left in tatters, as a result of economic and military occupation of the fascist regime. This leaves the Oromos, whose land and lives are inseparable, with only one option: to rise up and pay the ultimate price for freedom. The destruction and genocidal agenda of the TPLF is no secret, but what is extremely unsettling is that members of the Oromo People’s Democratic Organization (OPDO) are offering themselves up as tools for the rape of our nation. This is the most egregious and shameful act of sell-out in modern history. The OPDO is made up of Oromos, who were taken prisoners of war (POW’s) by the Ertriean People’s Liberation Front (EPLF), which, subsequently, agreed to turn them over to TPLF in exchange for easy access into Oromiyaa territory, thereby contributing to the occupation — and looting of the wealth of the Oromo nation.
Under these agonizing circumstances in Oromo history, the only option Oromos have is to unite behind Kaayyoo Oromoo and stand up to fight for liberty, justice and freedom, regardless of their current political affiliations. It was clear from the beginning that the TPLF’s main target is Oromummaa (Oromoness), not individuals or political groups, because the Tigrean ruling leadership believes their survival depends on the ability to eradicate the Oromo people so that it can take over the land to maintain their colonial hegemony in Oromiyaa. In Hizabwi Adena, the official journal of the TPLF, we find the following: “To have a lasting solution to our problems … we have to break narrow nationalists in Oromia … to smash [them] in a very decisive manner … We must be in a position to eradicate all narrow nationalists.” Therefore, in context of the challenge the Oromos are facing today, it no longer suffices to dwell on the past, or to waste time on analysis of the political machinations of successive Abyssinian regimes. What is needed is an urgent call for everyone who believes in the liberation of Oromiyaa to determine their own future based on objective reality. Oromos have the right to use every necessary means to defend and protect their national rights/interest against the enemy’s onslaught.
Now, it is time to make the sacrifices that will bring freedom and independence, in order to protect the suffering Oromo people from wanton killings, land takeovers, and plundering of natural resources, as well as torture, rape, and ethnic cleansing. It may be hard to believe, but the majority of Oromos in general are sitting on the sidelines, speculating about what might happen next or waiting for mercy from Meles Zenawi while the enemy is obliterating Oromiyaa. The big question is if the Oromos do not decide to fight for their rights and dignity, who else will? Indifference to the Oromo cause is suicidal in and of itself. There has never been any historical evidence of colonial dictators reversing or reforming their behavior, and willingly relinquishing their power. Expecting unrealistic outcomes stem from chronic ignorance and elusive promises on the part of those who have surrendered: the collaborators who have betrayed the Oromo cause and are now acting as if freedom could be achieved by joining the enemy and delusively propagating the notion of “Ethiopian democratization.” It is foolish to waste time in support of this charade. The Only consequences of surrendering are shame, humiliation and perpetual slavery. This is what those who have decided to “negotiate” with the invaders of our land are unable to understand. The Oromo people’s freedom is neither negotiable nor something to be compromised. Oromo youth, students, and nationalists are being tortured, brutalized and murdered by the thousands. It is very disturbing that 98% of the prison population and the overwhelming majority of people sentenced to death or to long prison terms in Ethiopia are Oromos. What does this mean? I leave this question for all to answer.
Fascism is on the rise in Ethiopia today, and there is no ambiguity as to the TPLF’s economic and military objectives for Oromiyaa. The regime is determined to plunder the natural resources of that region and to leave society even weaker and more defenseless in an attempt to uproot the Oromos and make the occupation complete. In such a grave situation, there is an urgent need to organize a collective force that will protect Oromo national rights and work to develop a more dedicated visionary leadership that will do whatever it takes to liberate Oromiyaa. Such an approach is absolutely essential to the very survival of the Oromo society. In conclusion, the Oromos must stand up as a people to reverse the ongoing TPLF colonial occupation and genocidal war of ethnic extermination. Primarily, it requires the will to fight for freedom, because the power to defeat the forces of occupation can come only from the people themselves. The choices are either, to continue enduring the suffering, humiliation, killings, and eventually, their total extermination, or to hold on to the principles of freedom and independence until the objective is reached. Only determination and persistent resistance against the occupying forces can bring true and lasting liberation, independence, and human dignity.