Oromo Liberation Front

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Oromo Liberation Front
Adda Bilisummaa Oromoo
Participant in the Ethiopian Civil War, Somali Civil War
Olf.PNG Etolf.gif
OLF logos
Flag of the Oromo Liberation Front.svg
Flag of the OLF
Active1973–present
LeadersDawud Ibsa Ayana
HeadquartersKhartum, Sudan (formerly)
Asmara, Eritrea (currently)
Area of
operations
Ethiopia, Somalia, Kenya
Strength

60,000 (1991)

5,000 (currently; OLF claim)
Originated asMecha and Tuluma Self-Help Association, Bale Oromo Resistance
AlliesONLF, EPPF, Sidama Liberation Front, Eritrea
OpponentsDerg, Workers' Party of Ethiopia, People's Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, TPLF, Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, OPDO, Federal Republic of Somalia, Somaliland, Puntland, Sudanese People's Liberation Army
Battles
and wars
Battle of Mendi, Battle of Addis Abeba, Battle of Dembidollo, Battle of the Charchar Mountains, Battle of Tiro, Battle of Horo Guduru, Battle of Jijiga, Battle of Hinde, Battle of Gelemso
 
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Oromo Liberation Front
Adda Bilisummaa Oromoo
Participant in the Ethiopian Civil War, Somali Civil War
Olf.PNG Etolf.gif
OLF logos
Flag of the Oromo Liberation Front.svg
Flag of the OLF
Active1973–present
LeadersDawud Ibsa Ayana
HeadquartersKhartum, Sudan (formerly)
Asmara, Eritrea (currently)
Area of
operations
Ethiopia, Somalia, Kenya
Strength

60,000 (1991)

5,000 (currently; OLF claim)
Originated asMecha and Tuluma Self-Help Association, Bale Oromo Resistance
AlliesONLF, EPPF, Sidama Liberation Front, Eritrea
OpponentsDerg, Workers' Party of Ethiopia, People's Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, TPLF, Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, OPDO, Federal Republic of Somalia, Somaliland, Puntland, Sudanese People's Liberation Army
Battles
and wars
Battle of Mendi, Battle of Addis Abeba, Battle of Dembidollo, Battle of the Charchar Mountains, Battle of Tiro, Battle of Horo Guduru, Battle of Jijiga, Battle of Hinde, Battle of Gelemso

The Oromo Liberation Front (Oromo: Adda Bilisummaa Oromoo or ABO), or OLF, is an organization established in 1973 by Oromo nationalists to promote self-determination for the Oromo people against "Abyssinian colonial rule". It was the culmination of over 70 years of uncoordinated resistance by Oromos against Amhara hegemony as well as oppression and suppression of the Oromo people and their culture.[1][2] It has been outlawed and labeled a terrorist organization by the Ethiopian government.[3] The OLF has offices in Asmara (military base), Washington D.C. and Berlin from where it operates Amharic and Afan Oromo radio stations.[4]

History[edit]

In 1967, the imperial regime of Haile Selassie I outlawed the Mecha and Tuluma Self-Help Association (MTSHA) and later instigated a wave of mass arrests and killings of its members and leaders.[5] Prominent military officer and leader of the association, Colonel General Tadesse Birru, was also arrested.[5] This reaction by the regime had been caused by the popularity of the organization among the Oromos and its links to the Bale Oromo resistance movement.[2]

One of the association's members, Hussein Sora, escaped to Somalia in 1967. Him and other Oromo refugees formed a rebel group called the Ethiopian National Liberation Front of which he was named Secretary General. The ENLF soon moved to Yemen and began training members of the Oromo diaspora.[6]

The first attempt to enter the country failed when Somali security forces tracked down the members and arrested them trying to enter Ethiopia through northern Somalia. The second attempt proved to be more successful and the second group of rebels made camp in the Chercher Mountains. At this point, the group decided to operate under the name of "Oromo" instead of "Ethiopia.[6]

Initial formation[edit]

In 1973, the political situation of the country had changed and the Ethiopian military had ousted the imperial regime and taken control. Leaders and members of the MTSHA, who had escaped arrest, had been operating secretly within the country by stirring up activism through underground newspapers such as "Kena Bektaa" and "The Oromo Voice Against Tyranny".[6] They organized a secret conference which was attended by Hussein Sora, Elemo Qiltu and various other Oromo leaders. It was during this conference that the Oromo Liberation Front was officially formed and its first political program was first written out.[6] The armed Oromo units in the Chercher Mountains were adopted as the military wing of the organization, the Oromo Liberation Army or OLA (Oromo: Waraanna Bilisummaa Oromo or WBO).[7]

The Oromo Liberation Army in the Chercher Mountains were placed under the command of Hassen Ibrahim, more commonly known as Elemo Qiltu.[6] In 1974, the OLA increased its activities in the mountains and caused much alarm amongst the administrators of the region especially when they killed the notorious landowner, Mulatu Tegegn.[7] The military regime of Ethiopia then sent General Getachew Shibeshi to destroy the insurrection. On September 6, 1974, the first Oromo Liberation Army was obliterated by mortar fire in the Battle of Tiro in which they lost both Ahmad Taqi and Elemo Qiltu; only three OLA soldiers survived.[7]

In an attempt to subjugate any further Oromo uprising, the Derg instigated mass arrests and killings in the surrounding urban areas of where the OLA had operated, particularly in the cities of Gelemso, Baddessa, Mechara, Boke and Balbaleti. After the short lived guerilla war, the OLF become even more disorganized and its a few of its leaders moved back to Aden in order to restructure the organization but to no avail.[6]

General Tadesse Birru, who had escaped from prison, continued an armed struggle in the Shewa region of the Oromo nation along with Hailu Regassa. They were eventually captured and executed in 1976 but his OLA contingent continued fighting and gained an influx of recruits after the executions.[8]

Official formation[edit]

By 1976, the Oromo Liberation Army had taken up a stronghold in the Chercher Mountains and this was used as an opportunity to reorganize the Front.[6][7][9] A two day secret conference was organized among Oromo leaders and the attendees hailed from all corners of Oromia and a more broadbased leadership was elected. A few members of the ENLF, who were released from custody in Somalia in 1975, and others, who had entered the country on previous occasions, as well as representatives of the underground study cells, individual Oromo nationalist and patriots were members of what is now called the "Founding Congress". The Congress revised the 1973 OLF Political Program and issued a new detailed program. The program called for the "total liberation of the Oromo nation from Ethiopian colonialism". The conference is now known as the Founding Congress and it marked the beginning of modern Oromo nationalism.[6]

Another front was opened by a by a newly formed Oromo Liberation Army that was initiated in eastern Oromia by farmers. Oromo students and intellectuals in urban areas joined OLA camps by the hundreds in order to offer leadership and educational training. The first battles occurred in the rural areas around Dire Dawa such as Gara Mul'ata.[6]

Late 1970s and the 1980s[edit]

The OLF subsequently spread its activities to western Oromia [9] and elected a new 41-member central committee along with a five-member Supreme Politico Military Command which comprised Lencho Letta, Muhee Abdo, Baro Tumsa, Magarsaa Barii and Gadaa Gamada. With its structure firmly in place, the OLF began an effective campaign to educate students and the general populace about Oromo nationalism. Its military wing also began capturing land in western Oromia, particularly in Wellega.[6]

Between 1977 and 1978, the war between Somalia and Ethiopia proved to be a double-sided coin to the fortunes of the organization. Abandoned weaponry from both armies allowing more recruits to be armed. On the other hand, the Ethiopian, Somali and Western Somali Liberation Front forces were all against the OLF and tried their utmost to eliminate the organization.[6][9]

In the 1980s, the OLF opened an office in Sudan after its office in Somalia was closed down.[6] It was also in that time that mass killings and arrests of Oromos began as a government attempt to curb the OLF's growth, which only served to further the OLF's support amongst Oromos.[9]

The Oromo Liberation Army at that point had grown from a few hundred to over 10,000 soldiers. Despite their numbers, the troops were poorly equipped when compared to the other rebel groups which were operating in Ethiopia at the time, namely the EPLF and the TPLF. The OLA controlled vast areas of land in southern, western and eastern Oromia and offices and military bases were set up in major cities such as Jijiga, Assosa, Dembidollo and Mendi.[9]

It was also in that decade that the organization and the movement lost many prominent figures such as Muhee Abdo, Saartu Yousef, Kebede Demissie, Baro Tumsa, Juuki Barentoo and hundreds more. The military government increased its viciousness against the OLF by burning entire villages, massacring student activists and through mass arrests.[9] The OLF leadership was once almost wiped out during an ambush by government troops in which the OLF Secretary General, Galassa Dilbo, was almost killed.[6]

1990s[edit]

The military government was on the verge of collapse as three rebel groups were obliterating its rule of the country. The Oromo Liberation Front, the Tigrayan People's Liberation Front and the Eritrean People's Liberation Front had differing alliances with each other, the TPLF and EPLF had a strong alliance and they both had limited coordinations with the OLF.[6][9] In 1990, the TPLF formed several other ethnic based political groups from prisoners it had released and put them all under an umberalla organization called the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front. The Oromo group in the EPRDF was the Oromo People's Democratic Organization and its creation was seen as an attempt to undermine the OLF.[10]

The EPRDF, after destroying government control in Tigray and the Amhara region, proceeded to take Nekemte, a city in Oromia. In response, the Oromo Liberation Front  said in a broadcast on the Radio Voice of Oromo Liberation (Frankfurt am Main) on 15 April 1991: "The OLF strongly opposes the phrase: liberating Wellega or the Oromo nation. It is false for any alien force to say that it will liberate the Oromo nation."

The three rebel groups along with government representatives were to meet in the London Conference in May 1991 but the government representatives withdrew after hearing news that their President, Mengistu Hailemariam, had escaped to Zimbabwe. In this meeting, it was decided that the EPLF would hold a referendum amongst Eritreans in order to secede from the rest of the country.[10] The EPRDF insisted that the OLF should not ask to secede from the country due to the Oromia regions strategic position in the country. Instead, it was decided that a transitional government compromising of the OLF, EPRDF and various other rebel groups would be created.[6][10]

Despite the tension, the two rebel groups worked together to capture the capital of Ethiopia, Addis Abeba, and bring down the remaining government forces. A national conference was convened and a transitional government was set up with the OLF having the second highest number of seats to the EPRDF.[6]

The two groups were, however, unable to work together largely because the OLF could not handle the OPDO believing it to be an EPRDF ploy to limit the OLF's power and influence.[6] Eventually, skirmishes began to break out between their military wings even though both groups had agreed to encamp their forces unil they could be properly transitioned into a national army. In 1992, the OLF announced that it was withdrawing from the government because of "harassment and assassinations of its members", in response, the EPRDF sent raiding parties to the encampment zones of OLA soldiers.[10] The ensuing arrests and killings greatly reduced the Oromo Liberation Front's fighting power. 20,000 of its fighters were immediately arrested and thousands were killed in the raids on the camps. Some OLF soldiers were purposely kept out of camps by their commanders due to suspicion and mistrust of the EPRDF and those groups began to engage the EPRDF in battle. Despite initial victories, the EPRDF's superiority in numbers and weaponry eventually forced the OLF troops to wage a guerilla war instead.[11]

In the late 1990s, much of the OLF leadership escaped the country and the land controlled and administered by the OLF was given to the EPRDF. Thousands of civilians were arrested, killed and chased out of the country for suspicion of supporting or being OLF members.[12] The EPRDF's success at quickly eliminating the OLF's military capability meant that the OLA could only wage a low-key struggle.

2000s[edit]

After the Eritrean–Ethiopian War, much of its leadership moved to Eritrea and its military wing began to get training and support from the Eritrean government. Between 2000 and 2005, the OLF membership fluctuated due to government crackdowns on Oromo student activism and general dissent.[11] Despite this, the OLF was only further weakened when a faction broke away due to disagreements with the Secretary General Dawud Ibsa.[13] The fighting between these two factions, particularly in the Borana region of Oromia greatly weakened the OLF's ability to wage a war against the government.[citation needed]

In 2006, the OLA in southern Oromia retreated into Kenya in an attempt to regroup. That same year, Brigidier General Kemel Gelchu of the Ethiopian military took 100 of his soldiers and joined the OLF in Eritrea.[14] Despite initially aiding the OLF as leader of its military wing, in 2008, General Kemel Gelchu took matters into his own hands and announced that the OLF would lay down its weapons and abandon its previous goal of seceding Oromia and instead work as a political party to democratize Ethiopia.[15] Along with this announcement, he commanded OLF soldiers in south Oromia to lay down their weapons and surrender to the government.[16] The central leadership of the OLF eventually announced that Kemel Gelchu had been removed from office but not before nearly half of the southern army of the OLF had surrendered. Kemel Gelchu and his troops in Eritrea formed their own OLF faction and allied themselves with Ginbot 7.[citation needed]

On 20 November 2012, the main OLF faction and the faction that had broken away in the early 2000s announced reunification.[citation needed]

Alleged Terrorism[edit]

Since the 1990s, the OLF has been accused of massacres and terrorist acts in Kenya, Somalia and Ethiopia which it has consistently denied. It had further claimed that the alleged massacres were committed by either the government or by disgruntled local Oromo farmers.

In 1998, at Bagalla on the border between Ethiopia and Kenya, 187 people were killed in a massacre believed to have been instigated by Borana Oromo tribesmen supported by the OLF.[17] It was estimated that several thousands of herds of livestock were stolen as well as 52 girls abducted. Most of this has led to tougher stance by the Kenyan government against the OLF.[18] A quote from the BBC article states "the fighting was sparked when Degodia tribesmen allowed their cattle to graze on Borana land without asking permission. Survivors of the attack blamed Kenyans and Oromos from neighbouring Ethiopia.However, at the time the government denied that OLF rebels were operating inside Kenya.".[19] In fact, a report compiled by a committee stated that the feuding between the two tribes existed before the OLF began operating in the area.[20] Kenyan authorities formally asked Ethiopia to remove their troops from Kenya indicative of Ethiopia's involvement in facilitating violence between communities [21]

In December 1991, it was reported that armed Oromos had attacked Amhara settlers in the Arsi Zone. According to a Human Rights Watch report, one hundred fifty-four Christians, mainly Amharas, were killed in Arba Guugu.[22] The report stated that the massacre was a result of exploitation of the animosity between Oromo and Amharas in that area by the previous government. The report went on to say that "OLF cadres instigated repeated attacks on Amhara settlers. Villages were burned and civilians were killed. "[22] According to University of Minnesota Human Right summary reports, the OLF admitted that its supporters might have carried out the massacre and "killed about 150 Amharas" in the area but it stated that the OLF had not planned or condoned the incidence.[23]

During the 1991–92 transition period, a massacre of 150 Amhara farmers which had been settled in Oromia was blamed on the Oromo Liberation Front. The killings are known as the Bodeno Massacre.

International Links[edit]

According to BBC reports dating as far back as 1999, OLF, along with other anti-Ethiopian elements operating in Ethiopia and Somalia, were receiving assistance from Eritrea as well as helping Eritrea during the Ethiopia-Eritrea 1998-2002 war.[24] In April 1998, OLF held a congress in Mogadishu electing a more militant leadership.[25] Eritrea also supported the Oromo fighters with a ship load of arms and additional 1,500 Oromo fighters being shipped from Eritrea to the south Somalia OLF training center of Qorioli.[26] In July 1999, OLF was stationed at the South Shabelle region and armed by Eritrea in order to fight Ethiopia during the border war. While Eritrea engaged Ethiopia in a border war, the OLA significantly increased their activities in southern Ethiopia.[27] During Ethiopia's war against Eritrea in 1998, the OLF was noted increasing its radio propaganda outreach to Oromos in Ethiopia.

However the Ethiopians, allied with the Somalia government temporarly stationed in Baidoa and the Puntland regional troops, attacked ICU and OLF bases in Southern Somalia. OLF fighters who were arrested in Somalia admitted their involvement with the radical Islamists and admitted of being trained in Eritrea. They were noted being part of the 270 Oromo militants of OLF trained in Mogadishu with the Islamists before they were captured. Leaders of the Somali state, while talking about OLF's alliance with Al-Ithad and Al-Qaeda, stated that OLF's destabilizing influence in the horn of Africa should be addressed. Around seven OLF fighters surrendered to Kenyan authorities early in January 2007, in Garissa District. OLF captives also confirmed being deployed in Somalia from Eritrea. Some of the captured fighters stated that they lived in Yemen before joining the Front in Eritrea in order to fight for independence.

Ideological base[edit]

The fundamental objective of the Oromo liberation movement is to exercise the Oromo peoples' right to national self-determination and end centuries of oppression and exploitation. While self-determination for the Oromo people has been the main objective of OLF, the members and leaders of the party have not formed a consensus whether the exercising of self-determination by the Oromo people will be in the form of an independent Oromia, or as part of a democratic Ethiopia. But recently, it has taken a clear stance by stating that its goals is to form, if possible, a political union with other nations on the basis of equality, respect for mutual interests and the principle of voluntary associations. OLF had played a major role in the formation of the Transitional Government in 1991 following the fall of the Derg regime. However, OLF left the transitional government, alleging that its members were being intimidated, jailed, and killed in many part of Oromia. Since then OLF has been engaged in low-scale protracted armed struggle against the Ethiopian government.

The OLF believes the Oromo people still are being denied their fundamental rights, still in centuries old of oppression by Ethiopian colonialism. According to OLF, Ethiopian colonialism has been led by Abyssinian Emperors which has been chiefly the Amhara ruling class until it was replaced by a Tigrayan-led government in early 1990s. OLF is one of the many Oromo political organizations in Ethiopia that are committed to the Oromo people who are endowed with the right to decide the type of sovereignty they want to live under and the type of political union they want to form with other peoples.[28]

The OLF believes, that the change in government from the Derg regime in 1991, far from enables the Oromo people and others to realize their fundamental rights. The OLF reiterates the struggle of the Oromo people is not directed against any people but a system of oppression. In fact, the OLF implies that it is committed to the noble cause of laying a foundation for union of free peoples on the basis of their freely expressed will.[29]

In January 2012, a press release announced that the OLF would no longer seek secession from Ethiopia.[30] Instead, the group announced it would pursue unity and freedom, and work with other political groups.[30] However, a subsequent statement appearing on the OLF website claimed that an unauthorized splinter group, which did not represent the views of the OLF, had made the announcement.[31]

OLF policies[edit]

On Peaceful Resolution of Conflicts in Ethiopia

OLF says that the root cause of political problems in Ethiopia is the policy of oppression by the former Imperial state of Ethiopia and refusal by the state to respect the rights of oppressed peoples to self-determination. The current Ethiopian government recognizes the right of self-determination of all states in its constitution, but it is accused of placing limitations imposed on the exercise of that right. OLF believes that there is an imperial domination that must be brought to an end in order to bring genuine peace and stability. Thus there is currently a policy of shelving political problems which must cease. The OLF says that it is ready to contribute towards any meaningful effort to reach at a comprehensive settlement to bring peace to all peoples. In the view of the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) another issue with the OLF movement has been the movement's treatment of Oromos who don't support OLF's ideologies. This is part of the reason the EPRDF helped to form an organization called the Oromo Peoples' Democratic Organization. OLF has stated that they do not resent Oromos for being members of the OPDO.

On Armed Struggle

OLF forces retreat into Kenya, February 3, 2006

The OLF states that the protracted armed resistance under the leadership of the Front is an act of self-defense exercised by the Front against successive Ethiopian governments, including the current one, which OLF believes is forcibly denying the Oromo people their right to self-determination. So the OLF armed resistance hopes to target the government's coercive machinery, not innocent civilians. The OLF has an anti terrorism stand and opposes terrorism as means of struggle to achieve the right of the Oromo people. The Organization considers terrorism as act of desperation. So it has a clear and peaceful policy on its actions against civilians in Ethiopia. Therefore, anti-terrorism against civilians remains a core policy of the organization even though OLF has not made a clear distinction between its armed struggle and terrorism acts against current and future Ethiopian governments.[32]

On Religion and Religious Extremism

The Oromo people are followers of three major religions: Islam, Christianity and traditional Oromo religion. The OLF claims to respect religious equality and pursues secular policy. It opposes religious domination and religious extremism of any kind. It believes the composition of its members and supporters among the Oromo people, irrespective of religious divides, is a clear testimony to the organization's correct democratic policy on religion.

On Right of Minorities in Oromia

In Oromia there are minorities who have distinct identity and culture of their own. Some minorities in Oromia are economically, culturally, and politically closely linked with the Oromo people. The OLF recognizes and respects the right of minorities in accordance with internationally accepted principles to develop their culture, administer their own affairs, enjoy equal rights in every field of activity. Just like the current Ethiopian government, the OLF has also undertaken to vigorously work for the full realization of these rights and will take necessary measures to strengthen the bond of fraternity between the Oromo people and minorities in Oromia.

Solidarity with "Oppressed Peoples"

The OLF believes that solidarity and cooperation among the oppressed peoples led by their respective forces is essential for realization of their common objectives of liberation. The organization has been working towards unity of struggle among the oppressed peoples to counter the enemy schemes and reduce the cost of achieving their political objectives of liberation. The OLF believes the alignment of the Ethiopian government with forces resisting genuine change in Ethiopia is posing a real threat to the oppressed and subjugated peoples in the country. The organization declares that there are indications that militaristic and chauvinistic elements who are aspiring to restore the old order are demanding for the reversal of what minimum change Oromo people have achieved through their struggle. It states that the Ethio-Eritrean conflict is going to directly affect the oppressed nations and nationalities economically and in terms of human casualty, and continuation of suppression and violation of human rights by creating pretexts connected with the war situation. The OLF is prepared to revitalize and strengthen previous agreements concluded with some organizations of oppressed peoples and work towards a formation of a platform to co-ordinate and channel their human and material resources to meet the challenge of the day.

Criticism of the OLF[edit]

Colonial Claims[edit]

The OLF established its organization based on a core ideology that the ethnic Oromo people were colonized by non-Oromos and they need to be liberated from that colonization. However, these OLF claims are disputed by other Ethiopians and even some Oromos, including by a group of high level former members of the OLF leadership who eventually split from the OLF.

There has also been criticism of the terminology the OLF uses; since its formation, the OLF has used the terminology "Abyssinian colonialism" to describe the alleged colonization of ethnic Oromos by non-Oromos (abyssinians) during the 1880s conquests by Emperor Menelik. However, both Oromos and non-Oromo Ethiopians alike have disagreed on such strict use of the word "Abyssinians" as exclusively meaning non-Oromo Ethiopians, because Oromo conquests[33] since the 1500s have led to northern Oromos being part and parcel of the Abyssinian empires centered in Gondar.[34] One particular example used by Ethiopianist Oromos, like Dr. Merera Gudina, against OLF is the historical accounts on Oromo rule of Ethiopia in the 1700s, including the Yejju Oromos "controlling the imperial seat at Gonder for about eighty years."[35][36] Ethiopianists claim that since Oromos were citizens of Abyssinia for several centuries (both as peasants and in its leadership), Abyssinia itself is made up of its Oromo citizens.[37][38] Thus northern Oromos were Abyssinians, long before Emperor Menelik was born to lead the alleged "Abyssinian conquest of Oromos."[39] Therefore, since an ethnic group can not colonize itself, both the incorrect use of the word "Abyssinia" and the claim of "colonization of Oromo" terminology has been disputed by Ethiopianists.[39][40]

Development[edit]

Another argument given by critics of OLF is its impact on the development of Ethiopia. Most critics of OLF imply that various development projects in southern Ethiopia have been suppressed due to the war waged by the OLA in those regions. In fact. various Oromo elders, Gaada leaders, Oromo religious head persons and Oromo political leaders living in Ethiopia have collectively denounced the destabilizing role of OLF in Oromia state including.[41] Groups allied to the OLF, such as the ONLF, have also been accused of stopping development plans in the Ogaden Region of Ethiopia including violence against formation of educational facilities[42] and the work of oil firms like the Chinese ZPEB and Malaysian oil firm Petronas.[43] OLF also admitted that it has attacked economic centers in Ethiopia as well as transport routes.[44]

One of the most outspoken Oromo leaders against the OLF organization has been Dr.Negasso Gidada, former President and current opposition leader. In 2002, after OLF rebels attacked the Tigray Hotel in Addis Ababa, killing many civilians and destroying property, Dr. Negasso stated that "such terrorist acts should not be committed especially in the name of Oromos".[45] He said there is no need for an armed struggle when there are alternative peaceful political ones. He stated,

The terrorist acts perpetrated against innocent civilians by individuals and groups under the guise to liberate Oromia were abominable crimes and should be condemned in the strongest possible terms. Whoever that commits such barbaric acts of terror in the name of liberation struggle should not be tolerated. The killing of innocent civilians and destroying their properties couldn't be justified by any standard. I am of the view that a democratic unity on the basis of justice and equality would be of much benefit to the people of Oromia.[46]

Rebuttal to Criticism of OLF[edit]

Criticism of the OLF and its ideology has been routinely countered by the organization and many Oromo intellectuals as being Ethiopian propaganda designed to delegitimize the movement. Ethiopians, mainly from the Amhara ethnic group, have termed Oromo nationalism and self-awareness as counter to the Ethiopian state. As a result, Oromo people and organizations that associated themselves with Oromos were targeted as anti-unity and subject to oppression. The OLF was created as a defence against this type of targeted subjugation of the Oromo people.[2]

On the issue of Ethiopian colonialism, it is noted that Emperor Menilik II officially formed the Ethiopian Empire in 1888 by declaring that all conquered land belonged to the Emperor .[47] After doing so, the Emperor allocated Amhara landlords over the conquered southern lands (including Oromia). In this system, these landlords promoted the systematic suppression and destruction of all elements of Oromo culture while Amhara culture, language and religion was imposed on the conquered Oromo people. [2]

The argument by Ethiopians stating that Oromos were never colonized because some Oromo figures such as Gobana Dacche had aided Emperor Menelik II in his conquests hold no weight because these Oromo generals came from areas in northern Oromia that had been conquered decades before they were born. As such, they were assimilated into Amhara culture from birth. Also, the number of Ethiopianist Oromos is insignificant compared to the number of the Oromo population which had been conquered and colonized by Emperor Menelik.

The Somalia role is complex as on one hand you have Ogaden fighting for independence like Oromo. On the other hand, you have a radicalized opposition to Horn of Africa. In the middle of these groups were former dictator Saide Barre, who were Marxist in ideology but opportunists by nature. Saide Barre's objective was to dominate the Horn of Africa. In his quest, Saide Barre captured former OLF commanders Barisoo Wabee (Magarsaa Barii), Gadaa Gammadaa (Damisee Tacaanee), Abbaa Xiiqii (Abboomaa Mitikku), Dori Bari (Yigazu Banti), Falmataa /Umar/Caccabsaa, Faafam Dooyyoo, Irra’anaa Qacalee (Obbo Dhinsaa), Dhadacha Boroo, Daddacha Muldhataa, and Marii Galaa [48] Since Saide Barre and his followers had a deep hatred towards Oromo, he asked the captured which one of you are Christian and which are Muslim. The Muslim Oromo refused to differentiate themselves from fellow Oromo (OLF is Secular), as a result all were executed and thrown in a mass grave April 15, 1980. The day is now commemorated by Oromos as Guyyaa Goota Oromo/Oromo Hero's Day.

Many mainstream Ethiopian intellectuals despise the OLF since it has a strong connection with Oromo people. Most often, the EPRDF spends tens of millions of money to lobby foreign countries to put OLF on their terrorist list. Numerous countries have refused to list OLF on the Terrorist Tier I listing based on the right of any people to desire and fight for nationhood. Their campaign has included dispersing mis-information about OLF massacres and terror attacks. Many of the massacres blamed on the OLF listed are usually TPLF actions to maximize conflict between oppressed nations.

Anti-Oromo campaign reaches beyond Ethiopian boundaries by Amhara and Tigray alike. Oromo refugees in Djibouti, Kenya, Puntland and South Sudan have been deported back into Ethiopia and even put into labor camps.[49] One such recent event was the deportation of UNHCR registered refugee, Tesfahun Chemeda, who was deported back to Ethiopia by Kenyan authorities in 2007 and later died in an Ethiopian prison on August 24, 2013.[50]

In Yemen, Ethiopian agents are suspected in the December 20, 2008 murder of Oromo Refugee Association leader Mr Ahmed Ibrahim Rore [51] The human rights report details violence towards Oromo refugees including rape. It also raises concerns over why UNHCR Yemen banned Oromo songs at Culture shows. Oromo in Yemen provided a letter detailing their suffering in Qubee [52]

Recent research in the United States have corroborated claims of Ethiopian Abyssinians torture, rape and extrajudicial killing of mainly Oromo, Ogaden, Anuak, Sidama and many Non-Abyssinians [53] Ethiopian Amhara and Tigray opposition have also been victims of torture. In Abyssinians attempts to counterattack their claims, OLF is often targeted as the cause of torture or that were rightfully victims. Similarly, Ogaden opposition ONLF is also blamed for torture and human rights violation by Ethiopian lobbyist, which has been counted by a letter from United States Senators to Prime Minister Meles Zenawi [54]

Notes[edit]

The OLF has offices in Washington, D.C. and Berlin. It operates a shortwave radio station, SBO (Sagalee Bilisummaa Oromoo) or VOL (Voice of Oromo Liberation), in Berlin. VOL radio transmits in Afan Oromo as well as in Amharic.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "OLF Mission". 2005. 
  2. ^ a b c d Triulzi, Alessandro (1996). Being and Becoming Oromo. Sweden: Gotab. ISBN 91-7106-379-X. 
  3. ^ "World Report 2012: Ethiopia". Human Rights Watch. 
  4. ^ Albert, Kasembeli. "Oromo Liberation Front: Who is Fooling Who?". 
  5. ^ a b Adejumobi, Saheed (2007). History of Ethiopia. United States of America: Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 112. ISBN 0-313-32273-2. 
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  18. ^ "MOI DAY OR MASSACRE DAY?". 
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