Radicalizing Oromo parties allege plot to dismantle the existing ethnic-based Federalism and “hate propaganda”
Five ethnic Oromo political parties issued a statement yesterday to condemn what they claim to be an “attack on Oromo identity.” The statement made claims of exclusive land ownership right as well as accusations against media and political groups on alleged grounds of “intent to demolish existing federalism” and “anti-Oromo propaganda.”
Oromo Liberation Front (OLF), United Oromo Liberation Front (UOLF), Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC), Oromo Liberation Unity Front (OLUF) and Oromo Democratic Front (ODF) are the parties that issued what many Ethiopians consider to be irresponsible, reckless and provoking statement. The statement with a radical ethnic Oromo-nationalist tone, many fear, could promote violence and conflict in Ethiopia.
What these organizations call “an attack on Oromo identity” is mainly linked to “Burayu incident”, as they described it, which is a massacre that caused the death of between 60 and 65 people, and over 100 people were wounded. Amnesty International has issued a statement last week saying that 58 civilians are killed in Burayu, outside of the capital Addis Ababa.
Ethnic Gamo who are victims from the massacre from Burayu say that Qeerroo, clandestine Oromo youth movement linked both to ethnic Oromo opposition and ruling party as well, is responsible. For that reason, Ethiopians declined to hail Qeerroo as a progressive force with a commitment for social justice and democracy. The massacre rather unveiled, some political analysts say, the nazist tendency of Qeerroo, and the individuals and groups that are manipulating the youth organization. That is essentially what the Oromo Opposition groups labelled as “an attack on Oromo identity” and “anti-Oromo propaganda.”
Apart from that, the five organizations boldly claimed, “on historical and legal grounds”, that Addis Ababa is a land that belongs to, exclusively, ethnic Oromo.
It is unclear why the ownership claims on Addis Ababa became an issue on a statement that is meant to address “an attack on Oromo identity.”
Radical Oromo organizations, many of whom came to the country recently following Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s call for peaceful struggle, claim that Addis Ababa was historically “Finefine” and under Oromo before what they call “Menelik settlers”, and they seem to liken it to settler colonialism in South Africa, took over the city 100 years ago by dislodging ethnic Oromo.
Where as Ethiopians with a basic understanding of Ethiopian history point to the 16th century massive Oromo expansion from the southern most point of Ethiopia during a time Ethiopia was weakened following fifteen years war of Ahmed Gragne.
The statement also condemned US based media outlet, Ethiopian Satellite Television (ESAT), for wagging an “anti-oromo propaganda.” The station has Oromo language program and many of ethnic Oromo party leaders including Bekele Gerba, who read out the statement yesterday, were regulars at the station. Critics of Oromo radical organizations say that the attack on ESAT is meant to tarnish the image of ESAT so that ethnic Oromo youth will not tune to alternative opposition media outlets.
An allegation is also made against political groups, but it was murky as it did not name names and left to imagination.
Based on reactions on social media, Ethiopians seem to be pushed to the point to think that appeasing approach will never work with radical ethno-nationalist parties.
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