THE INTENSIFICATION OF ATTACK ON OROMO PEOPLEHOOD AND RIGHTS:
The Violence of the Tigrayan Ethnocratic State and the Tyranny of Globalization
The Oromo people, their institutions, and organizations are systematically targeted and attacked for destruction by the Tigrean ethnocratic state with the tacit support of Western governments, the imperial interstate system, international financial institutions, and multinational corporations. The Tigrayan ethnocratic state attempting to destroy Oromo nationalism by denying Oromos self-assertion and self-development and by violently suppressing autonomous Oromo institutions and organizations, political and religious leaders, businessmen, intellectuals, and all Oromos who manifest any political consciousness to defend the interest of the Oromo people.
The systematic attack on Oromo people hood, the destruction of Oromo institutions, and the exploitation of the Oromo resources by the Abyssinian state elites started during the last decades of the nineteenth century. The emergence of the European Industrial Revolution and the process of European colonial expansion to Africa facilitated the creation of an alliance between the European powers and the Amhara-Tigrayan warlords and led to the colonization of Oromos and incorporation of Oromia into Ethiopia. Despite the fact that the Oromo population was reduced from ten to five million during their colonization by Ethiopians, the Oromo had survived and remained the largest ethno national group in the Horn of Africa because of their resistance to Ethiopian settler colonialism and cultural endurance.
With the intensification of globalization and the emergence of the Second Technological Revolution known as the Information Age, Oromos are targeted again for systematic destruction by the Tigrayan ethnocratic minority regime and its regional and internati -
-onal supporters to transfer Oromo resources for the development of Tigray and enrichment of the Tigrayan elites, their collaborators, and multinational corporations. A very dangerous and disturbing condition is developing with the intensification of globalization, the radicalization of Ethiopian racism, the increasing violation of Oromo human rights, and with the further crisis of the Ethiopian racialized state because of the Oromo resistance to Ethiopian colonialism and Tigrayan ethnocracy.
By challenging Ethiopian ideological and cultural hegemony, the Oromo movement has intensified political instability in the Ethiopian Empire. The empire survives by sheer military force. The development of the Oromo national movement has prevented the new colonial government from establishing its ideological and political hegemony in Oromia. States that fail to establish ideological hegemony and political orders are unstable and insecure. Hence they engage in state terrorism. The main assumption of such regimes is that they can control populations by destroying their leaders and culture of resistance. The Meles regime accepts state violence against Oromos as a legitimate means of establishing political stability in order to control Oromo territories and to exploit Oromo economic resources. State terrorism is associated with the issues of control of territory and resources and the construction of political and ideological domination.
After controlling Oromos and their country, Oromia, for almost one century, the Habasha elites are challenged by an organized Oromo national movement. The Meles regime with the support of the West carries out state terrorism against Oromos because Oromos are in the process of radically redefining the relationship between Oromos and Ethiopians (particularly Amharas and Tigrayans), which is to ideologically, culturally, and intellectually challenge Ethiopian cultural and ideological hegemony. Since the Tigrayan ethnocratic regime survives primarily on Oromo economic resources internally, its terrorism has targeted the Oromo people. Despite the fact that state terrorism is practiced in the form of war, assassination, murder, castration, burying alive, throwing off cliffs, hanging, torture, rape, confiscation of properties by the police and the army, the US Department of State argues in 1997 that “There were no confirmed reports of extra judicial killings by government security forces” in Ethiopia.
Oromos are still landless people and they do not have control over their lives and resources. In other words, they remain colonized and powerless. Whenever there is a war young Oromos are forced to go to war and die in defending the Ethiopian racist state. During the Ethiopian-Eritrean war between 1998 and 2000, it was estimated that more than one hundred thousand soldiers were killed on the Ethiopian side. The majority of these dead soldiers were Oromos who were used as cannon-fodders and minesweepers to keep the Tigrayan racist regime in power.
The alliance of the West, particularly the United States, and some African countries with the Tigrayan terrorist government have weakened the Oromo movement since 1992. The destruction of the emerging indigenous Oromo associations and organizations, such as the Oromo Relief Associations, the Oromo Human Rights League, newspapers, musical groups, and various professional, political, and economic organizations negatively affected the expanding political opportunities for the Oromo national movement.
Since the Tigrayan ethnocratic government does not want the development of the Oromo language, literature, culture, and Oromo nationalism, it targets Oromo intellectuals, politicians, and other leaders. It has silenced the vocal and nationalist Oromos, such as Oromos connected with Urjii, an Oromo newspaper, by imprisoning or killing, even though Urjii has been officially recognized. Since 1992 several thousands of Oromos have been killed or arrested for suspicion of being OLF supporters or sympathizers or for refusing proposed membership in the ruling state party. Former Oromo prisoners testified that their arms and legs were tied
tightly together on their backs and their naked bodies were whipped. Large containers or bottles filled with water were fixed to their testicles, or if they were women, bottles or poles were pushed into their organs.
There were prisoners who were locked up in empty steel barrels and tormented with heat in the tropical sun during the day and with cold at night. There were also prisoners who were forced into pits so that fire could be made on top of them. Umar Fatanssa, an elderly Oromo refugee in Djibouti, says that “We had never experienced anything like that, not under Haile Selassie, nor under the Mengistu regime: these people just come and shoot your son or your daughter dead in front of your eyes.” Explaining how systematic terrorism takes place through a tightly organized party that functions from the central government to the grass-root committee, Oromia Support Group (1997) asserts that “Testimonies of victims of abuse by rural security personnel persistently pointed to the role of security committees, consisting of local officials, political cadres of the EPRDF and its affiliates and army officers, in control of the peasant militias’. The committee system made the militia an integral part of the national political structure and placed them under the control of the central government through the ruling party apparatus. They provided the interface between local authorities, the militia, the army and the ruling party, in practice subordinating local security structures to the federal authorities.”
Being misled or intentionally accepting the Ethiopian Constitution at its face value, US officials praise the Ethiopian government in 1997 for its goal of a “decentralized system that brings justice closer to the people,” and reject the idea that “real power is retained at the center and used repressively.” It is paradoxical that when Oromos and others assert that the Meles regime has brought terrorism and intimidation to their neighbors and families, US officials argue that it has brought justice closer to the people. However, some observers assert that now the U.S. government has reached at the stage. It cannot defend the Meles regime. But there is no any concrete evidence for this.
As the Oromo national movement has been intensifying its struggle for national self-determination and democracy, the Tigrayan ethnocratic minority regime has been increasing its repression and state terrorism. The Oromo national movement emerged and developed in opposition to Ethiopian settler colonialism and associated ethnocratic politics. Its goal is to enable Oromos to determine their cultural, economic, and political destiny as people through national self-determination and democracy. Like successive Amhara-dominated regimes, the Tigrayan government has racialized/ethnicized the Ethiopian state by placing Tigrayan ethnicity at its core, by denying Oromos and others national self-determination, and by preventing the construction of a legitimate state that can reflect a multicultural society through accountability and democracy.
Without an accountable, democratic, and legitimate state, Oromos and other ethnonations are facing a more disastrous condition. If the current Ethiopian state terrorism and massive human rights violations continue to be ignored by the US (and other Western countries that back the regime), these conditions may soon result in a broader genocidal war, like in Rwanda, Bosnia, and Kosovo. The crises facing the Ethiopian Empire since the early 1970s has already destroyed social and cultural systems of peoples who traditionally opposed incorporation into the empire. The Tigrayan ethnocratic government has penetrated Oromo society and others through repression and terrorism, and key positions at all levels are now controlled by Tigrayan elites. Even those Oromos who have chosen to collaborate with the regime are not trusted.
This terrorist regime has been killing or chasing or imprisoning all opposition political movements and their supporters. Today we find structural and conjunctural problems in the Ethiopian Empire that facilitate the radicalization of racist prejudice.Although the Tigrayan elites took power from their ethnonational cousins, the Amharas, they could not establish their cultural and ideological hegemony in the empire mainly because of the Oromo national movement. As a result, this regime has targeted the Oromo people using subtle racist and public democratic discourses to maintain its ethnocratic state.
The racist discourse helps to facilitate intra-Tigrayan alliance against Oromos and others, and its formal democratic discourse is used to hide Tigrayan ethnocracy and racism and to get assistance from Western powers and the imperial interstate system. Since the discourses of “democracy,” “ethnonational federalism,” “development,” and the “social revolution” have failed to convince Oromos, the Meles regime uses state terrorism to violently subordinate the Oromo society and to maintain the kind of political order that keeps Tigrayan state elites in power. Since all these discourses and political practices are an integral part of global politics, they must be located and understood in the context of the global system. The incorporation of Oromia into the Ethiopian Empire, the colonization of Oromos by Habashas, and the continued subjugation of the Oromo nation have taken place within the logic of the racialized capitalist world system, the system that supports and maintains of the Ethiopian Empire at the expense of Oromos by supporting the Tigrayan racist system.
Indigenous Oromo organizations, including the Oromo Relief organizations and news papers, were closed and suppressed by the Tigrayan government. This government has established a double standard in educational policy that limits the access of Oromo children to school and expands educational opportunities for Tigrayan children. Oromo students have been targeted, killed or imprisoned.
In the racialized capitalist world system, one of the central contradictions is the racialization/ethncization of state power. The racialization of state power undermines accountability and the principles of multicultural/multinational democracy. Oromos have been struggling to dismantle racial/ethnonational hierarchy, colonial domination, racial hegemony and those institutions that have been legitimated by the ideology of racism. The solution for racial/ethnonational problems in the global capitalist system lies in recognizing cultural diversity, promoting self-determination, expanding genuine multicultural democracy by eliminating the racialization/ethnicization of state power in the world.
Because of the violent nature of the Ethiopian elites and their state and due to the alliance these forces have with the West, particularly the United States, the Ethiopian Empire is empowered to conduct more state terrorism, leading to crisis, genocide, and disintegration. Since the racialized/ethnicized state f Ethiopia is against multicultural democracy, self-determination, and autonomy, it will disintegrate like that of the former Soviet Union and Yugoslavia. Ethiopia’s contradictory political processes can result in a genocidal and war. Therefore, the world community needs to be aware of these possibilities and be capable of mediating the processes through developing democratic and fair procedures and criteria by which to resolve these problems before they are too late. Otherwise, the world will allow genocide to take place like in Rwanda or intervene late like in Bosnia and Kosovo and other places. The world community has a moral and political responsibility to challenge false assumptions about the indigenous peoples, like Oromos, and their movements and about the danger of allowing the existence of double standards for humanity based on the criterion of race/ethnicity.
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