March 12, 2016 | Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) press release
The Oromo people‟s protest to end the military occupation of Oromia and to demand their natural and internationally recognized rights has been going on without interruption for the last four months. During this time, our people and members of the revolutionary youth have conducted themselves with unparalleled discipline by respecting the rights and properties of other nationals living among them and those of its neighbors. The high level determination and discipline the Oromo mass in general the Oromo youth in particular have exhibited during these difficult times have very few parallels. The discipline earned them admiration and sympathy from many in the region and from the rest of the world and propelled them into making headlines in the international news media.
Contrary to reality, the enemy of the peoples of Ethiopia, the present regime, has tried to defame the peaceful struggle of the Oromo people as anti- religion and anti-people. The Oromo people follow the two world religions and its own traditional religion. The Oromo follow Islam, Christianity and Waaqeffannaa and the people have lived in peace and harmony as a united nation for ages. In the Oromo society, there are cases where the three religions are followed in the same family. To incite inter-religious and inter-ethnic violence, TPLF regime’s security agents burned churches and mosques on several occasions and have attempted to blame their own criminal acts on the OLF and others. When ongoing Oromo protests started about four months ago, the regime’s security agents attacked Muslim worshipers with hand grenades in the capital city and tried to blame the act on what they call “anti-peace forces” in their propaganda. The public knows very well the vain attempt of the regime to defame the OLF. However, in an unexpected reversal of months of denial and mischaracterization of the Oromo movement, the regime’s Prime Minster declared that the demands of the Oromo people are right and legitimate and admitted the atrocities perpetrated by the regime are the regime’s own faults.
In his recent declaration, the PM has attempted to put to work his government’s divide-and-rule policy by agitating and frightening the peoples living among the Oromo population by claiming that Oromo revolutionaries have attacked them. All these attempts of the regime have been rejected by the Oromo people and others living in Oromia. Members of the neighboring peoples have been living among Oromo people peacefully for centuries.
The present regime has been able to stay in power by using divide-and-rule tactics. It continues to incite inter-ethnic conflicts at all levels among population groups who have a long history of co-existing peacefully and in harmony. Today the Oromo people and others have become conscious of the regime’s evil acts and have risen up to struggle for their legitimate political and social rights. Refusing to be indefinitely deceived by massive propaganda, peoples have risen up demanding their rights.
In his speech to the federal parliament on March 10, 2016, the PM of Ethiopia Hailemariam Desalegn admitted that it is the government and the ruling party that are responsible for the problems that the country is facing today. He further acknowledged that it is the government and the party that didn’t properly respond to the demands of the people. He attested that the people are more conscious than the clique that is ruling it and indicated that the group cannot continue to rule the way they used to do in the past and now. He pinpointed the problem to be governance.
It is surprising that the PM only now came to realize, if in fact he did, that the Ethiopian peoples are conscious and know what is in their best interest. In fact, it is known that peoples of Ethiopia had rejected this government in a number of the fake elections held under very difficult situations. In these elections, the regime falsely declared itself the sole winner, sometime with 100% election victory. Among the citizens, those who dared to tell the truth were mercilessly massacred. It is through such brutal actions that the regime kept itself in power. Starting from the time this regime grabbed power some 25 years ago, the Oromo people have continuously exposed its mischiefs and opposed the regime for its undemocratic and cruel governance.
The regime has violently suppressed the peaceful demands of the Oromo people for their rights. It has used all means in its power to suppress the Oromo people’s peaceful movement including killing, torture, imprisonment, exiling, disappearances, etc. These cruel actions of the regime never made the Oromo people to halt its struggle for liberation, democracy and peace. Labeling the people as terrorists to justify violence never stopped the people from its just and rightful struggle. The regime is using the anti-terrorism slogan to attract the attention of the West and to earn military training and hardware as well as financial and diplomatic supports.
The regime’s attempt to drive wedge between the Oromo people and the OLF has completely failed. In the ongoing people’s movement, the people have established the fact that the Oromo people and the OLF are one and the same and won’t be alienated. During the protests the population has continued to use OLF symbols, slogans and nationalist songs. Thus further establishing that the OLF is not a terrorist organization, but a genuine organization leading the struggle for the liberation of the Oromo people.
Today Oromo protesters are being hunted down for peacefully demanding their rights to be respected in accordance to the constitution of the country and international laws. They are being hunted like wild animals and shot or arrested in mass and moved to concentration camps. These destinations of arrested individuals are unknown to relatives. There is conspiracy being cooked up to massively exile them to USA through third country to distance many of them from the people they are struggling for. Again, the only crime these Oromo individuals, which is not a crime at all, can be said to have committed is to ask peacefully for their rights to be respected and to be the masters of their own destiny following the provisions in the country’s constitution. The root of Ethiopia’s problem is this undemocratic and brutal regime and system TPLF created to rule the people. It’s undemocratic, dictatorial and fascistic rule by the core group called TPLF from Tigray. The people of Ethiopia have repeatedly told them “we don’t want you.” The Oromo people have on several occasions clearly indicated that they don’t want to be ruled by the stooge organization, the OPDO. The so called OPDO is not a genuine Oromo organization and cannot serve the Oromo people since it was created in Tigray to serve the interest of the regime in power (TPLF). But the regime continues to refuse to listen to the people. It is now very clear that the regime cannot find a solution to Oromo and other peoples’ questions on its own.
It is also clear that whatever solution the regime comes up with will only worsen the situation of our people. For instance, the government that claims to be democratic, a few days ago has put Oromia under military rule. Under the scheme, Oromia is divided into 8 regions and put under military rule headed by General Samora Younus from the Ministry of Defense. It is very clear to us that this will only worsen the situation. The killings, imprisonment, exiling and harassment will continue unabated.
On March 4, 2016 the government created a Military Council composed of some military personnel under the command of General Samora Younus. There is not a single Oromo, even from their loyal, among the members of the council. The council is overwhelmingly composed of general of ethnic Tigire origin. The list of the Council members, their original responsibilities and their origin include:
General Samora Younus
Overall Commander – Tigrean
Leut. General Yohannis G/Maskal
Operations – Tigirean
Major General Ibrahim Abduljalil
Logistics – Tigirean
Leut. General Sahare Mekonin
Training – Tigirean
Major General Mahar Zewude
Administration and Politics -Tigrean
Major General Gabre Adhanom
Intelligence – Tigirean
Major General Abraha W. Mariam
Commander of North-East (Harar)-Tigrean
Major General Fiseha Kidanu
Commander of South-West – Tigirean
Major General Yohannes G. Mikael
Commander of Central Zone – Tigirean
MG Adam Mohammed
Commander of Air Force – Amhara
MG Gabret Ayale
Commander of Northern Zone – Agew
In fact, Oromia has been under military rule from the time the Oromo protest for peace, democracy and the right for self-determination started by Qeerro (youth from schools and universities and other sectors) about four months ago. The March 4, 2016 internal declaration has only formalized the military rule down to village level to further aggravate the already tense situation. The decision of putting Oromia under military rule clearly indicates that the regime is unwilling to solve the Oromo people’s demands peacefully. In a double talk, the PM – admitted to have committed mistakes in handling the situation on the one hand he threatens” we will take decisive action, ‟on the other hand. The government has already openly declared war on the Oromo calling them “terrorists”, “anti-peace forces” and “devils”.
Everything said, the Oromo people and the OLF will continue the struggle until the Oromo people regain peace and their right to self-determination is fully respected.