Oromo Protest Killings and Miltary Rule in Oromia Across the Globe
By Habtamu Dugo
March 11 was an international day of collective action for the global Oromo community, which protested the killings of over 400 Oromo civilians, injuries of more than 4000 civilians, jailing of thousands of civilians, and the rape of hundreds of women and girls in Oromia, Ethiopia.
The rallies that took place in dozens of cities across the free world had two things in common: brining the atrocities committed against Oromo civilians to the attention of their respective governments and elected leaders, and to demand them to apply maximum pressure on the Ethiopian government to end the killings and the military rule in Oromia. The rallies also aimed at publicizing the Oromo desire for self-government, freedom, justice and democracy.
The transnational Oromo diaspora staged effectively coordinated rallies in cities worldwide, including in Washington DC, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Los Angeles, Lansing, Seattle, Syracuse, Phoenix, Raleigh, Calgary, Toronto, Winnipeg, London, Paris, Berlin, Brussels, Rome, Oslo, Stockholm, Berne, Melbourne, Riyadh and other cities. In their slogans, media interviews and prepared statements, the demonstrators brought the mass killings and other human rights abuses to the attention of the international community.
The rally in Washington DC was organized to “protest the Ethiopian government genocidal war in Oromia, Ethiopia,” according to a joint press release from five civil society groups, which helped organize it.
“Ethiopia’s TPLF regime is killing, injuring, jailing and disappearing Oromo students, youth and farmers who have been demonstrating peacefully for four months now. The demonstration in front of the White House and the State Department today aims at calling on the US Government to exert utmost pressure on the Ethiopian government to stop the extra-judicial killings of the Oromo people and to end the martial law in Oromia,” said Dr. Desta Yabessa, President of the Oromo Community Organization and head of the organizing committee.
Participants of the D.C. rally numbering over 1200 gave up a workday and came crossing state lines from states as far as Massachusetts and Ohio sometimes driving 7-8 hours in order to bring the plight of the Oromo people to the attention of the US government.
Many of marchers lost family members to the atrocities in Oromia and they were determined to deliver their messages to the United States government to act to avert the unfolding calamity in Oromia.
“I came from Boston to protest the massacre of our children, and the removal of our farmers from their ancestral lands,” Sinke said. She continued, “Children and adults are killed daily and we want the American government to hear us and do something. My niece, a mother of two, fell and died while running after soldiers who were whisking away her husband. The father is now in jail and the mother died so the children are left without an adult to care for them.”
In addition to attending rallies to be in global solidarity with protesters in Oromia, many came because they felt anguished by the loss of immediate family members to the massive state-led violence unfolding across Oromia.
A source who preferred to be anonymous told me that she lost her brother and she was here to demand justice for her brother and to be a voice for many others in Oromia who are losing brothers, sisters, mothers and fathers every day.
Women demonstrators said that their fellow women (including pregnant and nursing women) and girls have been killed and raped by the army in their homes and schools.
“The Tigrean Liberation Front ruling Ethiopia killed a seven-month pregnant woman. As a woman I felt the pain inflected on women of Oromia and I came from Ohio to bring this atrocity to the attention of the US government. The regime is massacring and injuring university students who are hope for the future of our nation. We pay tax so we came to the White House to ask America to help us,” stated a lady from Ohio.
Demonstrators believe that foreign aid helps fund the regime’s genocidal campaigns in Oromia and other regions of Ethiopia. In Washington DC and in dozens of cities around the world, demonstrators asked their governments to put utmost pressure on the Ethiopian government to yield to popular demands. One of the ways they thought the international community would pressure the totalitarian regime of Ethiopia is by ending foreign assistance to the regime, which is estimated at $3.8 billion, more than half of the yearly national budget of the Ethiopian government. They also see conditioning human rights on respect for human rights and democracy as a way of ensuring end to one-party dominance and blanket repressions. Foreign aid to Ethiopia means that tax-payers are funding the purchase of guns and bullets that are being used to commit these atrocities.
A press release for the rally in Washington DC read, “…A Rwandan type of genocide is being waged by the TPLF government against the Oromo people. While such kind of genocide war is being waged against the Oromo people, the largest ethnic group in Ethiopia, the Ethiopian government receives $3 billion in aid each year from Western countries specifically from the US government. Donors claim that the dictatorial regime is on the road to democracy, but the reality on the ground is far from the stated claim.”
It remains to be seen if the international community takes any live-saving actions.