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Gabcast! Gotoota Oromo Haa Yaadannu. #17 - Wallee.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Unmitigated security crackdown on Oromo students escalating

Unmitigated security crackdown on Oromo students escalating
In writing about the segregated government crackdown against Oromo students, I do not wish to rewrite the human rights violation reports in Oromia by International human rights groups such as Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and other organisations. I would rather focus on some of the sources of the causes of segregated attacks against Oromo students on university campuses in Ethiopia. Government security agents who infiltrate students and staff protract the attacks and orchestrate conflicts. Isolated attacks against the Oromo students have been common phenomena since the coming to power of TPLF/EPRDF in 1991. These attacks and discriminations have, however, escalated since 2000 as the popular uprising against the regime started gaining momentum and expanded to all corners of the country in quest of self-determination of peoples from excessive oppressions. The phenomenon has been recurrently hitting Oromo students in all Universities in the country. Some of the universities notorious for intensively segregating Oromo students are Addis Ababa University, Mekele University, Aromaya University, Bahirdar University, and Adama University.These causes of isolated attack against Oromo students take a number of masked forms on university campuses: verbal attacks that are provocative and denigrating to the Oromo people; textbooks that directly or indirectly insult the Oromo; T-shirts printed and worn by security agents with derogatory labels against the Oromo; and dehumanising words used in the national television and radios.Verbal attacks, and derogatory textbooks
These forms of assaults have been observed to be the common method the government security forces use to provoke and create an excuse to attack Oromo students in isolation. For instance, Oromo students were called derogatory names at Mekele University just for being Oromo. At the same university a pro government lecturer wrote a derogatory textbook (derogatory of the Oromo Nationals) in 2005 and stored in libraries as a main reference, following that students followed all the right procedures and have petitioned to get the book removed and the lecturer suspended legally. But the university president did not attempt to address the said problem in any way. Then students started boycotting classes, an event which was followed by the surrounding up of Oromo students by campus special forces. What makes this event an isolated attack on Oromo students is that only Oromo students were beaten, shot at, and thrown to jails. Besides denying Oromo rights to education, the degree of atrocities, as a result of excessive and indiscriminate use of force, often result in deaths of students and their being handicapped. Note that the verbal attacks, the writing of derogatory textbooks and the crackdown are exclusively formulated and implemented by government security forces. Most of the books that are derogatory of Oromo as people are history textbooks. Similarly, years back in 2000,2001 and 2002 Oromo student were segregated and attacked at Addis Ababa University for the same reason while no punishment was handed to pro government lecturer who wrote abusively. Because government is behind them, these kinds of people are encouraged to come up with more of these kinds of racist books. This can also allude to the crises in the academic integrity of poro government academic staffs who beat drums of racism and exclusion.Aromaya, Jimma and Adama University Derogatory T-ShirtsThe other causes of provocation and attack of Oromo students on University campuses that is currently being undertaken by government security agents is the wearing of T-Shirts with dehumanising labels. One label called Oromo “the greatest animals in the world”. These T-shirts are deliberately manufactured and printed with labels for the purpose of segregating Oromo as groups and individuals by the government itself. Conflicts arising from controversies over such matters have resulted in deaths and complete academic dismissal of several Oromo students without any judgement or trial. Because of “ethnic conflicts” between pro government and Oromo students at Aromaya University alone over 70 students have sustained serious injuries and have been hospitalised.
Not a single colonised people in history than Oromo have ever suffered segregation of this magnitude continuously on its own fatherland in the hands of oppressors. As an attribute of any segregating regime, the government security forces cause ethnic conflict among students and support students from pro government ethnic groups to beat Oromo ones. Being beaten by other students at the gunpoint from security guards often traumatises Oromo students and makes them desperate. Instead of mediating and preventing conflicts among politically opposed groups, the regime, gives support to certain groups that goes to the extent of shelling student dormitories, beating them with buttons and gun batt. These days, it is easy to witness numerous totally irresponsible security acts and violence on campuses and school compounds.In a similar instance, the current throwing of hand grenades by Tigrian students on the lives and properties of Oromo students on university dormitory buildings at Jimma University are condemnable instances. Unless closely observed and known from experiences, these kinds of things are done in secrete and are often difficult for Human Rights Groups to discern at a time unless follow ups are made. A few Tigrian students on campus are often discovered to be armed because whenever conflict breaks out and they (pro-government) use pistols and hand grenades against their fellow students. What country is there in the world that lets students of one tribe to be armed to attack others on university campuses? I leave that to your imagination. Given these degrees of physical and emotional instability of Oromo students, it is difficult to expect students to learn properly.To progress from the most recent to the past events, in 2004 Oromo Students of Addis Ababa University were attacked, jailed, and dismissed in many hundreds just because of conflicts caused by security crackdown of the nature under discussion. These students did nothing except peacefully demonstrate against the unconstitutional removal of the capital city of Oromia from Finfinnee (Addis) to Adama. This group of segregated students and other civilians are suffering in jails up to date.Similarly, in 2005 Oromo students were called derogatory names at Bahir Dar University in their residence buildings. I do not wish to specify the derogatory names because of the immense racist connotations that it bears. That actually happened when the dormitory official denied Oromo students of their usual routine of watching TV news in the evening after study. The issue is not about being denied of watching TV, it is about how it is denied which caused isolated crackdown. The security agent trivialised that Oromo students watching or not watching Oromo TV program “does not make them better humans”.Why Instigating and expanding conflicts now?
I am not just recounting what happened to Oromo students in and of itself. I would rather want to emphasise that in all the causes of conflicts caused and suppressed by government security, there is always a deeper political objective that the government wants to achieve. The foremost purpose of isolating and pitying Oromo students against pro government ethnic group (Tigre for instance) is to weaken the Alliance for Freedom and Democracy (AFD). Right after the formation of the AFD early 2006, there have been growing signs of unity amongst all Ethiopian political organisations to fight the fascist regime. The EPRDF/TPLF views AFD as the most dangerous enemy to be dealt with at any cost. One of such costs being shattering the lives of innocent students in unexpected conflicts very far away from their parents or guardians home-on university campuses. The method is to use security agents from students, workers, and civil society to insult the other, most of the time Oromo, to achieve a scale of conflict. Then using these opening, the government will spread propaganda that one group is a threat to the other while none is not, and promises to be on the side of anyone against Oromo or any other potential challengers to the system. It does this to spread an atmosphere of mistrust both amongst member organisations of the Alliance for Freedom and Democracy (AFD) and thereby amongst the people the organisations stand for at large. EPRDF/ TPLF wants this conflict to make sure students are divided and weakened enough when they come back to school in the new academic semester. If students stand together under the aims of AFD, then TPLF knows it is going to be a loser and that is inevitable indeed. Such is not really a sophisticated strategy, but it is a very tragic one often invoking a kind of danger that resembles the Rwanda Genocide of 1994 which Meles Zenawi camp subscribes to.Way forward
Not cooperating with the objectives of divide and rule of the tyrant Tigrian minority rule is the only best way out from tragic consequences of such schemes. Political stakeholders, supporters, and opposition parliamentarians must stand against these TPLF draconian acts and must make sure dissent is directed against the system, and not against any people what so ever. If all can live up to this expectations, then it is possible for urging and pressurising the reluctant international communities and countries such as United States of America, the European Union, and the African Union to support the aspiration of the oppressed peoples of Ethiopia.By Keerransoo Biyyaa

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