“Ilmi Oromoo Baratee Eessa Iyyuu Hin Gawu”

Haggaya 30, 2017 | Feyera Sobokssa

We have never been at peace ever since our land was conquered by the Abyssinian external forces often known by our parents as “Gaadduus. Our parents had a valid reason to say “Ilmi Oromoo baratee eesa iyyuu hin gawu.” When loosely translated, it is like saying, “An Oromo boy goes to school but gets nowhere.” They cannot say “Intala Oromo” because education was considered a privilege not a right for the Oromo boys in general and even worse for Oromo girls in particular. The enrollment of girls was not more than 2-3% of the total student population when I was in the elementary school. They have made this conclusion because they observe what was going on in their community. In my own birth place alone, a person who should have been a great role model for being the first person to get a Masters Degree, Obbo Guta Sirnessa, was killed during the Dergue regime. Oromo leaders like Kumsa Lata, Argaw Dinqa, Zewuga Bojiya, my own teachers like Dambi Disasa and Tewelde Gebremedhin (an Eritrean) and many, many others were killed by the Dergue military regime. There were about six Ph.D. holders who were killed in Tokkee Kuttaayee including a brother of Dr. Merera Guddina while I was a student at Ambo Comprehensive Senior Vocational High School.

One of the major tactics of those who are engaged in genocide is killing the leaders and elites of their subjects. When I was abducted and detained in a military camp known as Mehandis in 1991, I was listening to a radio show how Rev. Guddina Tumsa was choked and killed by the security forces of the Dergue regime. I was hearing over the radio program that he was very tall and the security agents of the Dergue regime couldn’t reach his neck. Therefore, they had to step up on a chair to reach his neck and choke him to death. I heard that he was buried in the compound of the mansion of Ras Kasa, the former high ranking official of the Hailesellassie regime.

When they released me, they have tightly tied my arms together and I was screaming due to the unbearable excruciating pain. An Oromo woman, who was teaching at the nearby Elementary School near Dej. Balcha Hospital, heard the scream and run towards me. She asked the TPLF militia why they were doing that to me. One of them replied, “He was caught while stealing.” She was asking him, “Did he learn stealing after you captured Finfinne? As far as I know, he has an enviable career at one of the best Employers in the Country –Ethiopian Airlines.” The reality, however, is that the TPLF leaders were the real thieves themselves who have invaded my country; who confiscated the book and newspaper I was holding and all the money in my pockets after they abducted me near Hotel De’Afrique in Finfinne. Similarly, they didn’t return all my belongings including all books, journals, magazines, personal and family photo albums from my childhood to adulthood. They were trying to steal my memories not only my belongings. They loot whatever they get once they break your door by force and enter your home.
We also remember those two young brothers, Tammiru and Tesfaye Likkii, who thought Gojjam was part of their country but whose corpses were shipped back to their birthplace, Dirree Incinnii, same day. It was a very tragic and heartbreaking moment for both their families and friends. As john F. Kennedy observed, “You cannot negotiate with people who say what is mine and what is yours is negotiable.” This attitude was reflected in the land tenure policies of the Abyssinian regimes after the conquest of Oromia.
The TPLF regime has continued the culture of killing the Oromo people with impunity ever since it came to power through violence in 1991. I also know the extra-judicial killings of six peacefully protesting school children in Dirre Incinni. Many students were also wounded by the live bullets that were directly fired at them by the TPLF/EPRDF militia. The mother of one of the students who was killed by the TPLF/EPRDF regime has killed the killer after the public have captured him and handed him over to the parents of one of the victims. It was a mob justice supported by the general public since there was a vacuum of governance at that chaotic transitional period in 1991.
As author and journalist Tesfaye Gebreab put it on one of his books, “They were killing prominent Oromo leaders and businesswomen and men all over Oromia. While deciding who to kill, Daraaraa Kafanii won the majority vote as compared to Daandanaa…” They have systematically delayed the death of Obbo Daandanaa Gurmuu. They have severely tortured him and I was once his inmate at the notorious Mai’kelawi torture facility and detention center. As a result, he couldn’t live longer. I promised him to write about what I have witnessed and I never broke my promise. That is why I have decided to speak instead of keeping silent.
I have also seen and witnessed the destruction of the Oromo Liberation Front’s Office in Dirre Dawa city in 1991 and I joined the public protest against the illegal killings of Oromo children by the Tigrean People’s Liberation Front’s Army with impunity.
There was also a large crowd of people in Dirre Dawa City who came out in mass for a funeral in reaction to the killing of a very young Oromo girl by the TPLF militia. She was a member of the Islamic Front for the Liberation of Oromia (IFLO.) It was also in 1991 while all Oromo independent political organizations were legally working within the frameworks of the Transitional Government of Ethiopia (TGOE) Charter. It was such illegal extra-judicial killings with impunity, abductions, torture and rape in detention centers all over Oromia that have forced all independent Oromo political organizations to leave the TGOE. I was not even a member of any one of the four independent Oromo political Organizations, the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF), IFLO, Oromo Abo and Tokkichummaa, which were legally in the TGOE. I was on vacation and working for Ethiopian Airlines as an Accountant.
It was a recent memory and we were watching on television when the TPLF regime was showing us mass graves of the Red Terror. It is a customary practice of the Abyssinian regimes to demonize and dehumanize their predecessors to get acceptance from the people they want to rule until they descend to same autocratic culture. I also know a public health professional who said he has seen mass executions of the Oromo people of Odaa Bultum by the Dergue regime, once at Gurawwaa and the second time in the city of Harar. He said, “The Kebele administrators were forcing the residents of the city to come out and watch the mass executions so that the rest would be intimidated and refrain from fighting the regime.”
I have been testifying that all those independent Oromo political organizations were forced to leave the TGOE because of the extra-judicial killings of their members, supporters and the general public with impunity. Our freedoms of organization, assembly, expression and movement were severely curtailed by this totalitarian and brutal minority regime. We must also learn from that grave mistake and form a united front based on the merits of knowledge, performance, conviction, dedication and commitment instead of having such fragmented political organizations which were organized based on regional and religious affiliations.
I frequently hear when people say the OPDO has five million members. It is good to note that the current Head of the Oromo Liberation Army (OLA) was once working for the Ethiopian Military. If Abdii Raggaasaa didn’t tip (kaattoo waliif kaachuu) one of the Networks of Oromo Activists (NOA), all of us couldn’t have survived the persecution of the Dergue regime. Oromo Generals like Taddesse Birruu, Kamaal Galchuu and Hailu Gonfaa were also once commanders of the Ethiopian army until they realized that they could no longer work with the Abyssinian elites. I personally advocate for consolidating our own unity by ways of our own institutional capacity building initiatives prior to making alliance with others.
I also remember how Cultural Survival, Poletics and the Ethiopian famine, a booklet authored by Bonnie Holcomb and Sisai Ibsa, was copied and taken out of the Library of the Workers Party of Ethiopia (WPE) Congress. Therefore, we are certain that the majority of Oromos who are working in the OPDO are not happy with what the brutal regime of the TPLF is now doing to the Oromo people and other marginalized nations and nationalities in the Ethiopian Empire.
The TPLF has continued killing the best and the brightest citizens of Oromia in a large scale. The massacre of 78 Oromo students at Ambo in 2014 is a recent memory. We all know the massacre of Oromos all over Oromia during #OromoProtests in general and the Irrecha massacre on October 2, 2016 at Hora Arsedi in particular. Therefore, we must also collect and record the names of our martyrs for posterity and accountability purposes. This must be stopped by any means necessary. We have the right to defend ourselves from genocide.

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