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Saturday, December 09, 2006

Testimony of Dr. Shigut Geleta, Foreign Relation Officer of the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) for Europe Regional Zone

Testimony of Dr. Shigut Geleta, Foreign Relation Officer of the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) for Europe Regional Zone, at the Irish Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs, Sub-Committee on Human Rights of the Irish Parliament (December 6, 2006), Dublin, Ireland. -

Mr Chairman,
Honourable Deputies and Senators,
Esteemed Defenders of Human Rights, -

Ladies and Gentlemen,
Let me begin by saying that I am extremely honoured for this opportunity to address before you about the plight of the Oromo people, the policy of the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) as well as the general human rights and the security situation in Ethiopia and the Horn.

Please allow me to say a word or two, by way of introduction, about the Oromo people. The Oromo accounts for close to 50% of the population in Ethiopia. Prior to being incorporated into the modern Ethiopian state in the last quarter of the 19th century, the Oromos lived in freedom under a uniquely democratic and indigenous institution called the Gada system. Under such a system, which is a replica of the evolving theory of deliberative democracy, the Oromos democratically administered themselves, elected their leaders and enacted laws through their representatives. After the occupation, such Oromo institutions were dismantled and replaced with a hierarchical and dehumanizing system. Ever since then successive regimes subjected the Oromo to domination, subjugation, exploitation. This is how a majority became marginalized.

I am narrating this not to dwell on the past but to show the genesis and birth of the OLF over 30 years ago to end this misery and injustice. With the fall of the imperial regime, we hoped the hierarchical structures rooted in a history of conquest and domination will be levelled out and that our people’s existence as second-class citizens would come to end. It did not. Under the Dergue domination and the hierarchical ordering of communities continued in the form of socialism and totalitarianism. OLF had to continue its struggle through other means.

In 1991, the collective efforts of the liberation forces ended the era of the Dergue. We stepped forward to reconfigure Ethiopia as the common homeland of all its diverse nations and nationalities. We took a risk to usher in a new era of democracy and freedom. Our optimism was once again quickly dashed. The ruling party failed to live up to its promises. It violated our agreement to introduce genuine democracy, install the superiority of the rule of law, restructure the centralized state administration by devolving power to the grassroots, so that each nation and nationality administer its affairs. Instead it pursued the policy of monopolizing power and domination continued in the name of pseudo democracy and federalism. As a result we were forced once again to go underground and resort to armed struggle--- with a hefty price.

We however continued to explore opportunities for just peace even after the abortion of the Transitional arrangement. We participated in different bilateral and multilateral talks with different stakeholders to peacefully resolve all outstanding issues. Our good faith participation in the many attempts to broker a just settlement with the assistance of the US, Germany and Norway attests to our ceaseless search for peace.

The peoples of Ethiopia had dreamt and were promised that the post-Mengistu era would be an era of equality, peace, and of civil liberty. Instead torture, extra-judicial killings, disappearances, detention without warrants, overruling decisions of courts, snatching democratically won elections, harassment of the Free Press and civil society have reigned.
The May 2005 elections were a landmark. Of course Oromos did not have much of a choice. Despite this shortcoming, it demonstrated that EPRDF cannot rule as in the past without resorting to ever-increasing draconian measures, and resorting to draconian measures they have.

The overwhelming majority of our population has rejected the ruling party. However, the regime continues to trample upon their yearnings for freedom and democracy using its military and security apparatus. It kills, displaces, detains and tortures anyone who dissents with impunity. The judiciary is turned into a kangaroo court. Opponents are detained on tramped up charges and denied their days in court. The rubber-stamp parliament is simply a fa├žade to create an appearance of representation.

Human rights violations are prevalent in Oromia and have been so during the last 15 years. In the Qalitti prison itself where senior Coalition for Unity and Democracy (CUD) leaders are unjustly held, there are over 300 Oromo prisoners. They have been rotting in there for years without due process of law, without any international scrutiny. Upwards of 30,000 Oromo prisoners of conscience are detained throughout Oromia. Leaders of Matcha and Tulama, the longest surviving Oromo NGO and a symbol of our tortuous struggle for freedom and democracy continue to be detained for years. They did not commit any offence. They are held in prison in utter disregard of court orders. Several Oromo students were/are killed, detained, and arbitrarily suspended or dismissed from universities. The repression is not limited to the Oromo alone, although I must admit it is where the most horrific violations take place and mostly away from the spotlight. No population group in Ethiopia is spared this ordeal. In fact as the regime gets more insecure, paranoid about its slipping grip on power, repression has become a knee-jerk reaction.

Ladies and Gentlemen,
The Oromo and the other people in Ethiopia believed in Western pronouncements about respect for human rights, democracy, good governance, and accountability. But the silence as these ideals are flagrantly violated is regrettably testing this belief. We are told that the West does not have the leverage. How does this square with the truth when the regime survives with Western money? After last year’s broad daylight killings we had hoped, the west would review this policy of not looking tyranny in the eye but rather rewarding it.

We are encouraged by recent criticism of the violations of human rights and the deficit of freedom and democracy in Ethiopia by the Irish government. And I hope this hearing would mark a watershed.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Please allow me now to briefly elaborate on my organization’s guiding principles. Until recently OLF has restricted itself to advocating the democratic rights of the Oromo people. We have done this in order to allay the suspicions of those who might think we are aspiring to dominate Ethiopia on the backs of the huge size of our constituency.

We are still committed to enabling our people to exercise its inalienable right to self-government, to ending its subject status. But given its huge democracy and central location, the Oromo bears great and special responsibility in creating the conditions for democracy and stability. It is in our self-interest to champion democracy and freedom for all. Oromo nationalism has reached a new stage in its phenomenal development. As a majority population, while the Oromo cannot expect freedom and democracy as a gift from others, it has to work with others to usher in a new era of not only freedom and democracy but also stability.

It is in this spirit that OLF took a key role in the formation of the Alliance for Freedom and Democracy (AFD). AFD brings together the major Ethiopian opposition parties and liberation organizations. Its birth has created hope that a new beginning is possible. By bringing together the cross section of the society across the divides, AFD and its inclusive vision have offered a real alternative to the regime on power.

Given the extraordinary situation, only the convening of an all-inclusive conference can remove the underlying causes of the crisis in Ethiopia. AFD has called for such a dialogue, which the ruling party is rejecting. Instead it is taking ill-conceived military adventures. The declaration of war on Somalia is meant to deflect attention from the deteriorating situation at home. In an unprecedented it has also declared war on the opposition. This is would only make the situation worse. It would cause regional instability. It would sour relations between religious groups.

Ethiopia is at a dangerous turning point again. Sensing insecurity and instability, senior commanders, diplomats, high officials and judges are defecting. The political space is closed than ever before. There are thousands of political prisoners. Repression and severe restriction on civil liberties is creating an explosive situation. The crisis will get worse unless the regime heeds the call for dialogue. However, for this to happen, Europe and the US have to stop handling the ruling party and the Prime Minister with a kid’s glove. I hope this hearing will be a catalyst for the start of a process culminating in a change of policy on Ethiopia.

Thank you.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Somalia War, a cover for genocide against the Oromos

By Siddise Abamagal -
Dec 4, 2006 — The current development in the Horn seems to be eclipsing the Oromo people’s quest for freedom, justice, democracy and self determination. This is exactly what the Zenawi minority regime has been planning for years. It is an open secret that Oromos have been the major victims of this regime. Oromo political forces, haven been the main opponents and challengers of the Tigrain People Liberation Front (TPLF) misrule. The rise of Oromo nationalism combined with awareness about the increasing human rights abuses and lootings of the Oromian resources by TPLF-managed companies are posing serious challenges to the dictatorial regime of Meles Zenawi. At a time when the Oromo plight and their struggle for justice are gaining international recognition, the regime is seeking various methods to continue unleashing its anti-Oromo policies by diverting the attention of the international community.
In 2004, when prominent human right groups such is Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch produced detailed reports about the gross human rights violations against Oromos, the regime, instead of addressing those concerns, changed focus to the election which Oromos know from the outset that it would be a sham election which the regime would not only rig it but also identify its main opponents among the citizens. In the run up for the 1992 election, the regime purposely excluded the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF), the vanguard Oromo political force, knowing that OLF could win the election in a land slide victory in Oromia. The same method has been applied during the 2005 election. Since OLF was declared "illegal", it could not participate in the election. To over shadow the plight of Oromo people, the regime allowed smaller and new political parties to participate. Strangely enough, to give a semblance of free and democratic election, the regime allowed these new parties to gain access to government owned media. By doing so, it was able to temporarily dupe the world and peace loving Ethiopians that Ethiopia is entering a new era. However, the Zenawi failed to understand that it was rejected by Ethiopian people until the residents of Finfinne (Addis Ababa), on May 8, 2005, marched to show their support to opposition parties and their preparedness to oust him through ballot.
Having caught up red handed while cheating the vote, Zenawi unleashed his secret weapon against those who were peacefully demanding their vote to be respected. An elected Oromo member of the parliament Tasfaye Adane was killed in broad day light by government security forces. The entire leadership of the opposition parties, mainly from the Coalition for Unity and Democracy (CUD), were put in prison and charged with treason and genocide. The entire free press in the country has been silenced and journalists have been jailed. His Western friends who once praised him of being one of the "African new generations of democrats" were forced to see the true nature of Zenawi’s regime.
Now a year and half after the election, the regime is trying to come with a new cover up to unleash new wave of genocide against the Oromo dissents. For those who are following the development, hundreds of Oromo members of the army were compelled to defect and several othe rs including high ranking Oromo military and police officers were sacked and replaced by those who are less competent to speak against the regime. Hundreds of Oromo soldiers, led by Brig. General Kemal Gelchu, Brig. General Hailu Gonfa, Colonel Gammachu Ayana, Colonel Ababa Garesu and many other high ranking officers have defected to OLF after realizing the unwavering anti-Oromo, anti-democratic and dictatorial stand of the regime. The commander of Ethiopian air force, the only remaining senior Oromo military official, General Alemishet Degife and army Brig General Kumera have been sacked. Military sources close to the regime disclosed that at least 41 Oromo members of the military above the ranks of major, including General Aloo, have been sacked and immediately put under detention. The regime has forced prominent Oromo lawyers, such us judge Tashale Abara to exile so that they cannot defend the rights of their people in the court of law. It has also threatened to death Oromo members of parliament such as Dr Getachew Jigii who fled the country leaving their constituency without representation. Any potential Oromo within the country who can be a potential treat is eliminated one by one. Now the regime is ready, the preparations over. This time around it declared "an illegal, immoral and senseless war" against Somalia as Tadesse Tadele wrote few days back. Such a declaration of war was also simultaneously made against OLF and Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF).
The TPLF’s rubber stamp parliament has approved Zenawi’s war declaration. This should no come as a surprise because those MPs were not elected by the people, they were rather appointed by Zenawi since the election was deemed null and void. Almost each and every MPs who belong to opposition parties had condemned and opposed the war and as a result has been accused of been enemy of the state. Zenawi’s declaration of war on OLF and other armed groups under legal pretext is nothing other than trying to give his planned genocide a legal cover up.
Therefore in the upcoming weeks and months we will be witnessing a nationwide campaign of arrest and killing against Oromos. While officially telling the world it evades Somalia to fight terrorism, Zenawi will unleash it lethal force against Oromos whom it view as the worst threat to its authoritarian rule. The major victims of this brand-new genocide will be those Oromo nationalists within the army, students and scholars. A high raking Oromo who is serving TPLF security has disclosed that the government has been planning to murder some leaders of "Oromo People Democratic Organization (OPDO), the brain child of TPLF, and blame it on OLF. In addition to that, the regime will continue detonating explosive in several crowded Oromian towns to terrorize and murder Oromo civilians. The goal is not only to eliminate those OPDO members who sympathize with the Oromo cause but also to mislead the world in to labeling OLF as terrorist group.
It is sad to see that the international community is turning a blind eye on Zenawi’s preparation to turn the Horn in to a complete chaos. It is a shame for the United States of America to try to side with this regime’s war on Somalia. This regime has misinformed and misled the US into supporting Somali warlords in the name of war on terror. While US poured millions of dollars to Zenawi’s account which he used to finance his meddling militia, the Somali people are being betrayed in their effort to once again re-unify their country. The Union of Islamic Courts is a byproduct of the misguided US policy in the horn and the frustration of Somali people against the blood-sucking warlords organized by Zenawi and financed by America. Hence, the US should revisit its policy on the Horn. It should stop financing Zenawi’s regime that has murdered 15- 20,000 Oromos in the past 15 years, according to the Oromia Supreme Court president who recently fled the country. The US should engage the UIC in dialogue for the betterment of the Somali people and for long term peace and stability. They should be careful not to create another Iraq in the Horn.
Zenawi’s declaration of war should be seen not only against that of the Somali people, but also against all people in the region including Ethiopians, Kenyans, Eritrean, and Sudanese. The Oromos cannot be a part of this regime’s war against our Somali neighbors and condemn it earnestly.
* The author is a Public Policy student and lives in North America. She can be reached at sabagalo@gmail.com

Monday, December 04, 2006

Meles Zenawi – East Africa’s Saddam Hussein or Ossama Bin Laden’s puppet?

Dr. Muhammad Shamsaddin Megalommatis -
Orientalist, Assyriologist, Egyptologist, Iranologist, and Islamologist, Historian, Political Scientist, Dr. Megalommatis, 49, is the author of 12 books, dozens of scholarly articles, hundreds of encyclopedia entries, and thousands of articles. He speaks, reads and writes more than 15, modern and ancient, languages. He refuted Greek nationalism, supported Martin Bernal’s Black Athena, and rejected the Greco-Romano-centric version of History. He pleaded for the European History by J. B. Duroselle, and defended the rights of the Turkish, Pomak, Macedonian, Vlachian, Arvanitic, Latin Catholic, and Jewish minorities of Greece, asking for the international recognition of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. Born Christian Orthodox, he adhered to Islam when 36, devoted to ideas of Muhyieldin Ibn al Arabi. Greek citizen of Turkish origin, Prof. Megalommatis studied and/or worked in Turkey, Greece, France, England, Belgium, Germany, Syria, Israel, Iraq, Iran, Egypt and Russia, and carried out research trips throughout the Middle East, Northeastern Africa and Central Asia. His career extended from Research & Education, Journalism, Publications, Photography, and Translation to Website Development, Human Rights Advocacy, Marketing, Sales & Brokerage. He traveled in more than 80 countries in 5 continents. He defends the Right of Aramaeans, Oromos, Berbers, and Beja to National Independence, demands international recognition for Somaliland, and denounces Islamic Terrorism.
Dr. Muhammad Shamsaddin Megalommatis
December 4, 2006
Meles Zenawi – Eastern Africa’s Saddam Hussein or Bin Laden’s puppet?
In an earlier article, we stressed the subtlety of the Horn of Africa issues; by letting an anachronistic and murderous coalition of Amhara and Tigray Monophysitic rulers further tyrannize both, the Amhara and Tigray Muslims and the (Christian, Muslim, and Animist) Afars, Oromos, Ogadenis, and Sidamas, the West signs the warranty certificate for an Islamic Terror Volcano Explosion of incommensurable dimensions and ominous impact on global developments.
By Prof. Dr. Muhammad Shamsaddin Megalommatis
The combination of disproportionate elimination from the decision making and miserable underdevelopment due to mistrust and ethnic hatred is an alarming factor in the Horn of Africa politics. When the Oromos (42%), the Ogadenis (10%), the Sidamas and other Southerners (10%), and the multi-split Afars (8%), who are dispersed among three states, namely Abyssinia, Djibouti, and Eritrea, face inhuman oppression and absolute alienation within their own historical lands that have been colonized by the Amhara Kingdom before 110 years (or even more recently), the despair and the desolation run high. Anyone, especially the Islamic Courts of Somalia and Ossama bin Laden, can capitalize on this and by promising an alternative gain momentum.
Amharas and Tigrays (20% and 12% of the population respectively) cannot be left atop of this cemetery of peoples that has been fallaciously named ‘Ethiopia’ (instead of the correct name ‘Abyssinia’) in order to show a resemblance of Kushitic African culture.
With the proportion of Muslim populations among Amhara and Tigray increasing (by now reaching approximately 40 – 45%), and with the character of the abominable oppression being double, religious (Monophysitic Christian against Muslims, Catholic and Protestant Christians, and Animists) and national (Amhara and Tigray over all the rest), the representativeness of the bogus-elected parliament and government runs at levels as low as 10 to 15% of the entire population. One could call Zeles Menawi the Saddam Hussein of the Horn of Africa.
Mad dog Zeles Menawi declares war – debacle according to the OLF statement!
A war between tyrannical bogus-Ethiopia and the Somali Islamists can introduce East Africa to an Ossama bin Laden inferno that will cause a devastating domino effect throughout Africa.
Americans should meditate on the terrible mistakes of the past; when the Iraqi mad dog Saddam Hussein declared his war on Iran’s Ayatullah Khomeini few would expect such a nefarious outcome! It is therefore high time to think for miscalculations and machinations like this are going to bring the Western world to its knees.
As a matter of fact, the unrepresentative bogus-Ethiopian parliament ratified a declaration of war of Somalia and Eritrea on November 30. In an overtly provocative way, Zenawi’s pseudo-parliament declared war also against the Oromo Liberation Front, demonstrating that the ‘Ethiopian’ government’s acts are directed against its own people and the largest ethnic group of that country.
In a statement, the OLF stipulates that “this reckless decision would undoubtedly lead to chaos in the Horn of Africa” and attributes the responsibility for the forthcoming ‘debacle’ to the Ethiopian regime exclusively.
Ogaden between the Abyssinian tyranny (called Ethiopia) and Somalia
To attack the Somali Islamists, the constantly deserted (by soldiers belonging to the oppressed ethnic groups) Abyssinian army will have to cross the great historical land of Ogaden that was traditionally called ‘Abyssinian Somalia’.
Ogaden was for millennia a transit area between the historical coast of Azania (eastern coast of today’s Somalia, plus the Kenyan and the Tanzanian coasts) and the Abyssinian plateau where Axum (near Makele in today’s Tigray province of Abyssinia) formed the traditional Abyssinian kingdom. According to the Periplus of the Red Sea, East African trade (goods from India, Indochina, Indonesia and East Africa) was at times transported (not onboard alongside the coast until the Bab al Mandeb straits and through the Red Sea up to Egypt but) overland to Axum and then to Meroe (in today’s Sudan which is the historical ‘Ethiopia’ of the Ancient Greco-Roman authors) to continue on the great fluvial passageway that was the Nile. Axum and the Other Berberia (as was the name of the kingdom that was ruling the area of today’s Somaliland – the north of the defunct united Somalia) never ruled the area of Ogaden. Only recently, following the colonial expansion of England, France and Italy, and the end of WW II, the Amhara kingdom expanded in Ogaden, and imposed successively its royal – communist – pseudo-republican terror there.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

War on Somalia to Divert attention from Ethiopian unrest

By Qeerransoo Biyyaa* -
Dec 1, 2006 — At this moment Ethiopia is at its peak in poverty and political turmoil. The government is unable to control disease outbreaks or it just does not care. For instance cholera has wiped out hundreds of people in South and South East. In other parts of the country seeing a depressing scene of humans dying on hospital concrete floors is common. Malaria and HIV/AIDs wiping millions non-stop. There are not adequate medical doctors nor are there medical supply for the diseases to be treated at hospitals and local clinics. We are going back to a period that looks like when Mohammed Amin through his photography revealed to the world about the existence of a grinding poverty in Ethiopia.
People are hardly able to afford to move from place to place using public and private transportation. The prices of both long distance and short distance transportation has doubled everywhere except in Meles Zenawi’s Tigray.
Besides these horribly indescribable difficult living situations, there is a growing protest to political and economic oppression by a greater majority of the Ethiopian population. Government security forces are on everyone’s doorstep every morning you walk out and every evening you walk in. If you are suspected of having affiliation with opposition, you are gone. That is both in urban and rural areas. Where protests are very strong in Oromia and other parts of the country, people are tortured in their own houses. They will make people lie down on the ground and walk over their chest several times until they faint. They also tie water or some objects to male’s genital organs. Rapes are widespread. Specially the Agazi force and federal police do that. This force is purely from ethnically Tigrian tribe from top officials to ordinary soldiers. It is a force loyal to the Meles Zenawi regime. They do terrorise people and interrupt their activities. They do sometimes loot money from private houses and business people to discourage them in their work.
Zenawi has no legitimate fears of threat from Somalia as he claims. Rather he is going to war with Somalia because mainly he wants to divert the attentions of the rest of the world from the problems that are cooking within Ethiopia because of injustices. That is why I have started my views with the deteriorating political, social and economic situations within Ethiopia. That is a very important understanding to tell why Meles Zenawi is declaring war on Somalia. If Zenawi goes to war with Somalia, he will hide his internal bad records from the west. Also it is perhaps one of the best ways for him to do some business with the United States of America and make billions of US dollars to keep him in power. But I am not sure if he will be able to regain a long lost western description of “One of the new breeds of African Democrats”.

Map of oromia

Map of oromia