November 16, 2006 ( Finfinne) - Last year’s uprisings in Oromia marked a watershed in the rocky relationship between the Ethiopian regime and the Oromo, who make up close to half of the population in Ethiopia. It all began in Ambo, a flashpoint that personified resistance against TPLF/EPRDF. It all begun by students, high school, and college and university students protesting human rights violations --- as they have done so in the past, but this time in qualitatively different way. The protests started out peaceful. Local police were called in to put the situation under control. However, soon cracks developed between the Oromia Police displaying increasing sympathy to the grievances aired by protesters and ruling party cadres calling for tougher action.
As time went by without the protests dying down and instead the crowd swelling and protests spreading from one town to another, almost becoming a phenomenon, the Prime Minister called in the Agazi Federal Police, putting the local police on the sideline. In subsequent questioning in parliament the Prime Minister denied the involvement of federal units brought in by the urging of General Abadula, President of the Oromia Regional State Government, seen by many as the Meles’ henchman.
The Agazi, an elite army division disguised as a police force, lived true to its deadly reputation in last year’s disturbances in Finfinne/Addis by unleashing volley after volley of live ammunition into crowds, killing and wounding scores of protesters and onlookers. The barbarity of the action prompted parents and the general public to be involved. By the time the protests cooled down more than 200, mostly students, were killed and hundreds more wounded, thousands arrested and others fled the country.
It was a mini-revolution of sorts that had many sad, happy and humorous moments. The most hilarious was in Ambo where locals tied the flags of OPDO on stray dogs to symbolize its role as the attack dogs of the regime.
Abaya Comman, where local peasants bravely held the full might of the Agazi at bay for two consecutive weeks, Galamso, where the locals dared to take full control of the entire district for weeks, Kofale, Tikur Incini, Salale, and Gimbi where students lighted the torch of freedom with their lives, Kamise, where the Wallo Oromo renewed its vow that its fate lie with its mother nation despite all the years of separation, and many other places seared into Oromo national psyche.
This all begun on November 9, 2005, a day that the Oromo liberation struggle entered a new phase. On November 9, 2006, commemorated throughout Oromia and among the Oromo Diaspora around the world. As in last year, the protests are continuing. As in last year’s federal units have been called in. As in last year, parents and the general public are joining students, unfazed by the Agazi. As in last year the international community and media is silent about a story that may shape the future of Ethiopia. It is the brutality by Agazi and the state that prompted senior army officers, soldiers, diplomats, judges, and officials to break ranks with the regime and join the liberation struggles of their people. Like the man who saw the end of Communism after witnessing, at the heyday of the Polish Solidarity movement, ¨proletariats¨ being shot and killed by a ¨proletarian state¨ many sensed EPRDF’s imminent demise.
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