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Friday, November 10, 2006

From denial of certification of graduation to murdering Oromo strudents in a Tigray University

From denial of certificate of graduation to murdering Oromo Students in a Tigray University
By Qeerranssoo Biyyaa
November 10, 2006 — Mekele University, a university based in the capital city of Tigray State, has become the killing ground of Oromo students. Oromo students travel thousands of kilometres away from south, west, east and central Oromia to go to Mekele University. It is a government university that takes students assigned by the Ministry of Education of Ethiopia. The University takes students from other nationalities in the country. But only Oromo students are discriminated and murdered. This is a hotspot where government’s policy of discrimination against Oromos is strongly implemented.
Oromo students are hunted for just being born and identified as Oromo persons. Student Shibiru Demissie was murdered in cold blood after electric power on campus was cut off on a doorstep to his dormitory on November 4, 2006. Shibiru Demissie was a third year history student. The killing of Oromo students has become a norm in Tigray’s Mekele University. Another student, Sime Terefe was murdered earlier at the same place for being an Oromo. His corpse were taken outside Mekele town and dumped into a river. It was found after a few days of search. In events of Oromo student murder at Mekele, the Meles regime has been silent on issues of Oromo student safety in his Tigray State.
Securities and police hunt and kill Oromo students on that campus in the evening, usually after cutting electric power. The deaths of their fellow Oromo students will mean a lot of emotional distress for hundreds of Oromo students that are assigned to attend higher education at the university. Instead of looking after children who are thousands of kilometres away from their parents care, the university is busy sending the corpses of Oromo students to their parents. In a poor country like Ethiopia sending children to school requires a heavy investment on the side of parents from their poor economy.
These kinds of selective Oromo hunt often leads to disruption of remaining students’ process of learning. After the attacks, even the friends of students who help in taking the corpses to his birthplace have always been interrogated after coming back to the university. Afterwards, they are jailed and tortured arbitrarily.
Unlike Oromo students who are severely persecuted and rejected by the surrounding community at Mekelle, Tigriay students assigned to universities in Oromia state are welcome by the Oromo community. They safely complete their studies and take their degrees when they finish.
In august 2006, it is remembered that more than 50 Oromo students were denied their degree and diploma certificates at the same university. The acting Mekele University registrar, Dr Mitiku scoffed at Oromo students when they asked why their documents are selectively denied as, “ You will not get any degree or dimploma certificates here. You would rather go away from us to your birth state”. Preceding the incident of denying Oromo students certificate of graduation, Oromo students were overwhelmed by attacks from residents around Mekele University who stormed into the campus.
Policy of Discrimination
The attacks that Oromo students face at Mekele University is only the government’s extension of the policy of discrimination and persecution followed against the Oromo people. Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, and the international community must follow up the difficult lives of Oromo students on University campuses. These bodies should question why Meles Zenawi’s regime is silent on these deadly developments. It is incumbent on the international community to end Ethiopian government policy of discrimination against Oromo students.
* The author is based in Ethiopia. He can be reached at meettaa@gmail.com

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