Tibebu Demeke Boru from Hof, Germany
Theoretically in the Ethiopian EPRDF Constitution land belongs to the “people and the state’’. In a very easy and understandable way this implies that any plan or decision regarding land issue in Ethiopia needs the involvement of both the public and the government side. Transparency, discussion and clear understanding about the future impact and benefits of a new development plan is crucial for the residents to decide and say <okay since we are also involved and benefited from the development we agree let the development plan come to the implementation>. From the past many years practical experience the public involvement in any development driven plan and decision which is the constitutional right is being always ignored and the government monopolizes and owns all of the land in the rush to land grabbing. Where there is no transparency and public discussion there could not be a clear understanding about any new development driven plan. In short the public under the authoritarian government has no place of involvement for ’’development’’ named way of land grabbing strategy.
The indigenous Oromo farmers past experience of displacement and dispossession in the name of ‘development’ driven land grabbing, which is the worst of all, is here also a more decisive factor to agree or disagree on the issue. The Oromo farmers who have been forcefully evicted were not totally payed any compensation or payed some which might even not last till one year. Hence, to survive many are exposed to be beggars, prostitutions and the likes in the towns of the Ethiopian Empire. If many investors promise is kept and the evicted Oromo residents are given a job opportunity, the position is definitely guards, daily workers or house hold servants payed on average 45 Dollar a month. The untold mistreatments, disregard and inhuman act of the investors on the daily bases here should not be forgotten, still to survive they should stay being employed.
Since the last many years the Oromo people who are victims of the forced displacement and dispossession complained to the concerned authorities. Many human right activists have also shown Oromo farmers a non-interrupted solidarity against this act of the government. The government has always a deaf ear towards such complaint. Many who individually resisted and opposed the strategy have been given the name ’’ anti-development’’ and were charged under the anti-terrorism law and sentenced to languish in the prison cell. Since Oromo protest is often equated with terrorism act many others are intimidated and silenced. To me it looks that the land grabbing strategy which the government committed on individual or relatively some group of farmers allowed the implementation easier than the mass eviction.
According to some news out let before like ten years ago the Ethiopian federal government has drafted an expansion plan of the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa. This administrative and territorial expansion plan is drafted in the name of integrated Addis Ababa and the surrounding Oromia towns’ development master plan. This plan incorporates around 26 Oromia towns surrounding Addis Ababa, it evicts and dispossess livelihoods of more than two million ethnic Oromo communities. From the past experience after evicting Oromo residents, the land is to be divided among the TPLF higher to lower position cadres, sold or leased to the Indian, chines and Saudi Arabian investors. We also know how the Indian and chines countries are contributing to the world’s environmental degradation and global warming. If the plan is implemented it would “de-oromonaiz” the entire central Oromo community and hence would be among the most consequential ethnic cleansing in human history.
Thus, the plan faced the utmost resistance as ‘illegal’, ‘inhuman’ and ‘unconstitutional’ form. The silence is broken and the Oromo stood in unity and decided to die rather than being forcefully evicted. At least 122 people have been killed, hundreds of thousands wounded and detained in less than one month of uprisings in Ethiopia’s Oromia state. Protesters primarily oppose the controversial Addis Ababa and Surrounding Oromia Special Zone Development Plan, but the protest is about much more than opposition to the Addis Ababa master plan. The evolving nature of the protesters’ demands points to deep-rooted discontents and long unaddressed political grievances. Toward that end, the protesters’ are calling for genuine self-rule and an end to the domination by the TPLF, the ruling party in Ethiopia’s EPRDF, which is in power since 1991. This is evident in their slogans: “Oromia is not for sale,” “Killing is not an answer to our grievances” and “We want genuine self-rule.”
Protesters emphasized the grassroots-based, peaceful and constitutional nature of their demands. However, the government in Addis Ababa has accused them of being tools of“anti-peace elements,” and as usual the EPRDF has deflected this genuine local grievances towards the opposition groups. Especially the OFC party leaders, members and sympathizers are blamed of engaging the protesters in the campaign. The government also added in his announcement that the protesters are members and sympathizers of opposition groups. This is in fact a contradictory and an indirect admission for the fake and best exaggerated May 2015 election, which the EPRDF claimed 100 percent parliamentary seats victory in the country’s 5th national elections. The protest is obviously conducted for the second time, in 2014 Dozens of University students were killed on the protest. The depth, breadth and determination of this year’s protests show that people are simply fed up with the ruling party’s never-ending propaganda about development, massive corruption, an ever-growing repression, arbitrary killings, imprisonment, inequality, injustice and so on.
It is in fact very difficult to predict how the current ongoing protests will end. Despite the firm opposition and loss of lives, the regime is still declaring “victory” against what it calls “anti-peace elements.” As it was happening already, thousands of student activists will be hunted down and herded into detention centers. The bodies of the dead is being still collected from the morgues and buried unceremoniously. How a heart breaking it is! Who again puts trust on the TPLF and its fitting regional leaders? They all are our enemies who brutally killed our mothers, sisters, brothers and fathers. They are our enemies who raped our sisters and let many helpless and hopeless. There is no any regimes government who last forever except the government of God! The only thing the struggle demand is our unity and commitment.
Struggle is divers in nature it never demands only to be part of the military and fight. Finally my message to each and every single Oromo in the glob is, let’s not expect westerns or others to bring our freedom, they all are running for their business, lets unit and stand on the possible part of the struggle and end up this brutal and authoritarian government.
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