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Ethiopian forces 'killed 400 Oromo protesters'

The wnton killing of Ormos must stop.

BBC - 16 June 2016

  • Officials have acknowledged that more than 170 people were killed during the protests

Ethiopian security forces killed more than 400 people in the recent wave of anti-government demonstrations, US-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) says.

In its most comprehensive report into the Oromo protests, HRW lists the names of more than 300 it says were killed.

The government has acknowledged that protesters have died but has said HRW was "very generous with numbers".

Protests were sparked by fears that a plan to expand the capital into Oromia region would displace Oromo farmers.

They began in November last year, but the government dropped the proposal to enlarge Addis Ababa in January.

The Oromo protests and Ethiopian unity

Oromia is Ethiopia's largest region, completely surrounding the city.

The change of policy has not stopped the demonstrations, but they have reduced in their intensity.

Oromo protestor shot in the back and killed by AGAZI forces with a burst from an AK47 assault weapon.

An investigation, released last week, by the Ethiopia Human Rights Commission, appointed by parliament, found that 173 people had died during the unrest.

It said the dead included 28 security officers and local government officials.

Information Minister Getachew Reda said that in the main the security forces conducted themselves "in a very professional and responsible manner".

He put the killings down to "a few bad apples".

The government has said that it will investigate and deal with those responsible.

But critics point out that previous investigations into alleged human rights abuses have not led to prosecutions.

'Electric shocks'

The HRW report is based on interviews with more than 100 victims and witnesses and accuses the police and army of using excessive force, reports the BBC's Ethiopia correspondent Emmanuel Igunza.

Some of those interviewed allege they were hung by their ankles and beaten while others described having electric shocks applied to their feet while in detention.

Several women also claim to have been raped and sexually assaulted.

HRW also says that tens of thousands of people were arrested and hundreds have disappeared.

Anger over urban planning was the starting point for the protests, but they were an expression of much older complaints over a lack of political and economic inclusion of Oromo people, correspondents say.

At the last census in 2007, the Oromo made up Ethiopia's biggest ethnic group, at about 25 million people out of a population at the time of nearly 74 million.

Meanwhile the atrocities against the Mursi and other aboriginal nations forced to live under Ethiopian state government rule continue unabated.



Marsan Bobasa Soboka is Oromo and the author of the political novel Bakkalcha Bakkeetti Deebi’e

After his timely novel was banned in Ethiopia, the printer raided, a local NGO ransacked, many copies confiscated and destroyed, he was detained and tortured in Ethiopia. He managed in 2014 to escape and to flee from his home country. Today he is living in exile under the constant fear for his family back home and himself in the country that gave him asylum. He knows that his protection letter issued by UNHCR doesn't stop the regime's persecution.

Since the surviving copies of his work are in the meanwhile sold out, he prepared now for a second, even improved and revised edition. The list of orders is already long, but he lacks the financial resources to re-publish, print and distribute his work.

While the second edition will at first be published in its original Oromo language, like the first version, we also plan for a bilingual edition (Oromo and English), which will then also serve the purpose as textbook for Oromo speakers to learn English and for English speakers to learn the Oromo language.


The Star of Hope is Shining Bright - for Oromo

The usually tense atmosphere at Addis Ababa University hit a new climax. The main hall at the Institute of Ethiopian Studies was filled by a crowd of people with different mood. It seemed that the pressure, which had been kept for as long as a century under a tied lid, was about to erupt. 

A rumour had been circulated among the university’s communities for a couple of weeks. Now the rumour manifested. And the sensitive subject was to be debated on stage in a public discussion. The research paper by one of the students at AAU, with the title ETHIOPIA ON THE WRONG WAY had been selected as the most outstanding students’ research papers of the year. The contest was organized among the students from East & Horn of Africa universities and sponsored by international NGOs. The aim of the contest was to promote the participation of the new generation in the facilitation of democracy and human rights in their respective countries. Unfortunately this thesis and its content was not easy to accept for some conservative students, professors and the regime in power. They all showed their discontent against the subject. But none of them was able to stop the paper from becoming a public issue. Rather they only could funnel and escalate intolerance among the academic community.

Suddenly, the roaring sound of the crowd dropped to an uneasy silence and a stillness as if there was no one in the hall. A young man of modest nature and charming appearance came on the stage. Immediately loud shouting, clapping, screeching and whistling rocked the hall as an expression of honour - followed almost immediately by grudging and murmurs as signs of disapproval, because no one had expected the sudden presence of an intelligence figure like Colonel Gebru among the crowd. Accompanied by a now tense atmosphere, the panel discussion was conducted - emphasizing the dangers of false democracy, recommending tolerating each other and avoiding fabricated history as the only way forward to continue as a state.

The sentiments aired at the panel discussion triggered a severe alarm for Colonel Gebru. Having received a list of five students, with the panellist Gurmu Gemta written on top and describing him as the potentially greatest threat to the regime, Col. Gebru had organized a secret team ready for a surprise attack. The team had camped at the university’s main campus to launch an effective strike and to crush any ‘unnecessary’ student movement.

The Colonel's team had then came up with the proposal to launch the attack on Gurumu’s close friends instead. That was intended to make Gurmu quiet forever with unbearable pain. He should never forget that Roba Ganamo, Gurmu’s intimate friend, had sustained life threatening injuries, while Gurmu’s girlfriend was murdered in a cruel manner - both at the university. 

But the brutal murder of Bacu Fita had not relinquished the student movement. It rather provoked the entire nation to join in an all-embracing movement. Gurmu and his fellow friends left their university to organize and lead the movement. They were convinced that they should have to remove the “inhuman” regime by any means. This then was a shocking development for Colonel Gebru’s team. The news form the intelligence office warned that the youth had equipped themselves. And there was now fear that the movement will easily dominate most government structures. The tendency of the military and other security bodies to join the youth movement was about to add insult to injury.

This is the central theme of the book “BAKKALCHA BAKKEETTI DEEBI’E.” The book is a revolutionary novel written by M. Bobbaasa. The term used as a title holds the concept of divination.  Traditionally the Oromo practice forecasting the future by mainly using the positions of the stars, as well as Moon and Sun. Accordingly, time-reckoning experts observe the position of the celestial bodies during the night and inform the local people what the future will come with. Looking at the position of Bakkalcha, the morning star, the Oromo predict what will happen in the future. Thus literary the term “Bakkalcha Bakkeetti  Deebi’ee” means the future is in the favour of Oromo.

Supporters of the cause, well-wishers and institutions are encouraged to support the re-publication of this novel and to send in their pledges by e-mail to office[AT] - we will tell you the secure and sure way to donate without loss of funds. We might also set up an own crowd-funding website for this cause and author Marsan Bobasa Soboka, but so far are reluctant to do this through one of the big providers, because they simply keep too much money for themselves.

For any questions, the author can be contacted securely via africanode[AT] (this hop and air-gap is unfortunately necessary due to his precarious security situation).


relates news:

Eritrea beats Ethiopian Troops back

Eritrea forces killed more than 200 Ethiopian troops and wounded 300 others in fighting along their border on Sunday and Monday, Eritrea's Ministry of Information has said.

Eritrea squashed the attack launched on it in the Tsorona area, and forced Ethiopian forces to retreat, it added in a statement.

Eritrea did not give casualty figures for its side. 

On Monday, Ethiopia said it had inflicted "significant damage" on Eritrean forces who it said were the first to attack.

Eritrea gained independence from occupier Ethiopia following a referendum in April 1993

The 1998-2000 border war between Ethiopia and Eritrea led to the deaths of around 100,000 people.