P.O Box 32391 – Fridley, MN 55432
March 19, 2010
Mr. Johnnie Carson
Assistant Secretary – Bureau of African Affairs,
U.S. Department of State
2201 C Street NW – Washington, DC 20520
202-647-4000 – firstname.lastname@example.org
Dear Assistant Secretary Carson:
I am writing this letter on behalf of the Oromo Studies Association (OSA), a scholarly, multi-disciplinary, non-profit international organization, established to promote studies on and relevant to the Oromo people residing in East Africa, mainly in Ethiopia with a population close to 50 million. The Executive Committee of OSA is very excited to learn that the Bureau of African Affairs in the US State Department is organizing a seminar/ conference on Ethiopia on April 5, 2010. OSA is following the issue of this conference with a great deal of interest, because Ethiopia is at the crossroads due to the upcoming election in May of 2010.
We were even more excited when we learned that Professor Asafa Jalata, a renowned Oromo-American scholar, was invited to participate on this historic seminar and make a presentation on the current Ethiopian situation from the Oromo perspective. However, our excitement had soon changed to sadness and depression when we learned that he was later on told that he could not participate in this seminar because he was an Oromo. We further learned that some of the peace-loving organizers of the April 5, 2010 seminar walked out from the process, protesting that debarring Oromo experts from participating in this seminar was a discriminatory action by itself. To make the situation even worse, when asked why Professor Jalata was prevented from participating on the conference, the lead organizer of this seminar declared that “the seminar has been canceled.” But then we learned that, this was in fact not true and the preparation for the planned conference was proceeding as scheduled. We believe that this is a clear indication of making undemocratic decisions behind closed doors, because the assertion that “the seminar was canceled” was simply a cover-up. Change and transparency are the motto of our current President Barack Obama, and it is our strong conviction that the State Department should function under the same motto.
The Oromos, who constitute about 50% of the current population of Ethiopia, have lived under discriminatory and minority rule for over a century now. First, by the Amhara minority ruling class (from Menelik II (1889) to Mengistu Hailemariam (1991)), and now, by another minority Tigrean ruling class led by Meles Zenawi and his TPLF (Tigrean People’s Liberation Front) party, all this time by strong support and endorsement of Western powers, mainly the United States. The current minority TPLF leadership has received support and endorsement in 1991 at the so called “London Conference” by the then US Assistant Secretary of African Affairs Herman Cohen. The regime continues enjoying US support since then at the expense of marginalization, discrimination, and humiliation of the entire non-Tigrean population of Ethiopia, mainly the Oromo population.
We Oromos believe that we are (and have been) seen as second class citizens by the successive Ethiopian regimes and their cliques and our brothers and sisters at home continue to live under humanitarian harassment, economic exploitation, discrimination and humiliation. It truly hurts our feelings when we learn that, the same discrimination is, not only endorsed on us (Oromos), but in deed applied to us by the leadership of this great country of ours, the United States of America.
If justice were to be served, because majority of the Ethiopian population are Oromos, it goes without saying that most of the participants of the seminar should be Oromo experts based on majority democratic principles. We believe that such an important conference will be successful when and only when all the stakeholders are proportionally represented and when all voices are heard. Therefore, we ask your genuine interaction with Ms. Rachel Warner to enable her to welcome Oromo experts to participate in the April 5, 2010, seminar/conference on Ethiopia. OSA believes that democracy, human rights, security, stability, and development in Oromia and in Ethiopia cannot be promoted without the free participation of the Oromo people, the largest ethnonational group in Ethiopia.
Thank you for your democratic leadership, and we hope to hear from you soon.
Haile Hirpa, PhD
President Barack Obama
Madam Secretary Hilary Clinton
U.S. Department of State
2201 C Street NW – Washington DC 20520
Telephones: (202) 647-4000/ (202) 647-6575
Rep. Donald M. Payne
Elected Board Chair of the Board of the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation
2310 Rayburn House Office Building – Washington DC 20515
Fax: (202) 225-4160 – Phone: (202) 225-3436
Senator Russ Feingold
Fax: (202) 224-2725 – Phone: (202) 224-5323
Oromo: If United, We Can Make a Difference Even in the Horn!
|March 22, 2010 at 12:34 am · Gadaa.com
By Fayyis Oromia*
The conference prepared by OACC in Minessota has initiated a very good discussion among different parts of Oromo community, including those who support the obsolete mindedxeqilaigizat-federalists (x-federalists), those serving the Weyane fascist fake-federalists (f-federalists) and those promoting the foresighted killil-federalists (k-federalists). It is crystal clear that these Oromo groups can decide on the future situation in the empire like answering the question, who should take power from the fascist fake-federalists in the coming “election” 2010: the kilil-federalists or the xeqilaigizat-federalists?
Thanks to the Oromo people and to Rabbi/Waaqayyoo, every political group in the empire nowadays claims to be a federalist. They no more brag and preach about a unitary imiye Ethiopia or about Abbay Tigray. The unitarists who untiringly cry about the imiye could now know that, without the rhetoric of federation, they can win no single vote of Oromo. The hegemonist Weyanes changed their program of Abbay Tigrai just as they had come to Oromia.
But now, it seems their power base is shaking. The next question seems to be: who will take power in the coming “election” from the Weyane fascist fake-federalists (from the FFF, who are almost similar to the KKK of USAmerica)? The k-federalists led by MEDREK or the the “anti-Killilistan” forces, who are x-federalists and led by MEAD aka AEUP? Time will show us which one of them will succeed. The best remedy against the fascists would have been the further conversion of the unitarists from their present position of supporting x-federation to the position of supporting k-federation. That means recognizing the right of Oromia to exist and the right of the Oromo nation to self-determination, instead of still trying to dismantle Oromia with the pretext of struggling for the x-federalism (for geography-based federalism).
Then, we, anti-Weyane forces in the empire, would have only ONE strong force against fascists instead of being divided into two opposition camps (k-federalists and x-federalists). Well, the die-hard unitarsts bragged about their unitary position during the “election” in 2005. Today in this time of 2010 “election”, they do brag about their “NEW form” of federation. But, surely in the next “election” of 2015, they will be part and parcel of k-federation. We have observed that they are learning slowly, but surely. Looking at the political organizations in the empire, the current three political camps, in which Oromo is participating are:
– Xeqilaigizat-federalist (x-federalists) parties like AEUP, EDP, EPPF and, EPRP (*note that the position of G-7/UDJ is ambiguous*).
– Fascist fake-federalists (f-federalists) of TPLF and its slaves like ANDM, OPDO, SEDM and SPDP.
– Killil-federalist (k-federalist) parties like ATSD (Arena), OFC, SDAF (Somali) and UEDF (* the liberation fronts like OLF, ONLF and SLF as well as the ambiguous G-7/UDJ do seem to endorse this camp*)
No question that the fascist f-federalists will die a natural death inthe near future. The only question to be answered is: who will take over? The k-federalists or the x-federalists? Or will the fascist f-federalists survive further by playing the “divide and rule” game using k-Federalists vs. x-federalists? The best solution would have been that x-federalists give up their obsolete xeqilaigizat view and join the k-federalists by accepting and respecting the God-given right of Oromo to have Oromian autonomy in the Ethiopian context and by acknowledging the same right to other nations and nationalities of the empire, so that we can have only ONE very strong k-Federalist camp against the fascist f-federalists. Unfortunately, the leader of MEAD opposed to join MEDREK and signed the Code of Conduct with the leader of the fascist f-federalists, and with that he gave Weyane the chance not to lose power in this coming “election”.
That is why, specially Oromo rallying behind the x-federalists and the fascist f-federalists should decide now which way to go. They better ask themselves: what is next for their own people (the Oromo people), just like Oromo in Minnesota did. The politically-conscious nationalist Oromo seems to have decided that the next step for the Oromo people must be the securing of the true k-federation. They started to say: let us talk and walk now the k-federation. The time (the phase of the liberation journey) is in reality the time to struggle for true federation.
The question asked to be solved in the panel discussion of Minnesota was “What is Next for the Oromo People?”, and the answer suggested was mostly, “the next is a move to a true federation (true Oromian autonomy). That means the next measure to be taken for our people is to engage our coordinated words and works to promote our move towards the next step of our liberation journey, i.e. a move to a true k-federation and then ask again “What is Next for Our People?”. This question will be asked further till Oromo people decide per referendum (self-determination) and declare that “we have achieved our objective.” Without such determination of our public regarding our destination, the simple assertion of individuals or organizations that “we have already achieved our objective” does not work.
According to the hitherto discussion, in short, “regional walfaanummaa of free nations after national walabummaa of Oromia and other nations” can be a common END-kaayyoo of the liberation journey, not only for Oromo nationalists, but even for all nationalists of the nations in the Horn of Africa, including the genuine Amhara and Tegaru nationalists (of course, excluding the imperialist Abyssinian hegemonists like Weyane). It will be nice if all of them can agree on this, giving up their effort until now, which they used to make one of the following four goals they do seem to pursue, respectively, as their END-kaayyoo. For instance:
– Amhara f-federalists’ end-kayyoo of a unitary Ethiopia now modified to be a “NEW form” of federation (geography-based federation),
– Tegaru hegemonists’ end-kaayyoo of the status quo, i.e. maintaining the fake-federation,
– Oromo federalists’ overt end-kaayyoo of only Oromian autonomy, disregarding the further move to Oromian independence, and
– Oromo liberators’ end-kaayyoo of only isolated Oromian independence, without taking into consideration the possible further move to a union of independent nations.
Actually, the best and the beneficial common END can only be the voluntary union of independent nations aka regional walfaanummaa with/after national walabummaa based on self-determination of the partaking nations of the region. Even though self-determination is the generalkaayyoo for the nation concerned, the political organizations struggling for the right of their nations must be able to formulate a concrete kaayyoo they think should be the outcome of the self-determination. To make it clear, I do want to try to describe here, that the concepts bilisummaa(liberation), abbaabiyyummaa (sovereignty) and hire-murtefannaa (self-determination) can not serve as a concrete kaayyoo (concrete outcome of the national self-determination) for the Oromo liberation fronts and for the Oromo political parties.
I think the whole “confusion” about our kaayyoo is firstly for we could not differentiate the GENERAL kaayyoo-Oromo from the SPECIFIC kaayyoo of the respective fronts/parties, which they set and advocate to be the best outcome of the self-determination. Also, the “confusion” is because of the fact that the following concepts were used without defining them operationally as akaayyoo of Oromo political organizations at different times by different groups:
– Abbaabiyyummaa: which is not per se a concrete kaayyoo to be used by the political groups for we can claim to be abbaabiyyaa in all the three possible outcomes of our self-determination, that means abbaabiyyaa in a form of only Oromian autonomy or in a form of only Oromian independence or in a from of a union of independent nations.
– Bilisummaa: which is the common denominator for all our liberation fronts/parties who do struggle against the status quo (against garbummaa Oromo). So we can also claim to have bilisummaa in all the above three outcomes of our self-determination (the Oromian autonomy, the Oromian independence or the union of independent nations), that means it also cannot be a concrete goal to be advocated by our specific fronts/parties, so that the public decides for/against it in a referendum. Actually, it is the virtue, which all political organizations want to achieve before we do have a chance to exercise a referendum.
– Hiree-murteefannaa: which is obviously the general goal of the Oromo people, but it can not serve as a concrete goal of the specific Oromian liberation front or Oromian political party for it includes all the hitherto mentioned three terms (the short-term Oromian autonomy, the middle-term Oromian independence and the long-term union of independent nations) as a possible outcomes. It seems here is the “ambiguity” of Oromo nationalists in OLF-SG, if their rhetoric about this unspecific kaayyoo is not only tactical.
– Walabummaa (independence): this is one of the concepts which can be taken as a concrete goal of the liberation fronts/political parties for it is one of the concrete three outcomes of the Oromo self-determination, which can be advocated by the groups supporting it, regardless of the position of the Oromo majority which will be determined during the required referendum. It seems this is the reason why those who do advocate this “Kaayyoo-ganama” usually sound to be arrogant and self-righteous, whenever they talk that they are the “only ones on the right track.”
– Walfaanummaa (union): which has got also a double meaning (firstly, walfaanummaabefore/without walabummaa. i.e. federation and, secondly, walfaanummaa after/withwalabummaa, i.e. the union of independent nations). These are two of the three specific outcomes of the Oromo self-determination, so that any liberation front or political party claiming to struggle for walfaanummaa should concretely tell which of the twowalfaanumma’s it means. For instance, OFC clearly seems to struggle for walfaanummaawithout walabummaa, but which front/party is for walfaanummaa with walabummaa? The alliance AFD and with that the front OLF-SG? It is then better to describe the two concepts as walfaanummaa Ethiopia before walabummaa (Ethiopian union before national independence), and walfaanummaa Sabootaa after walabummaa (the union of nations after independence), respectively.
Simply put, Oromo people’s kaayyoo, in general, can include all the above mentioned five concepts, but Oromo liberation fronts and Oromo political parties should be as clear and as concrete as possible, when they tell us their desired goal or when they advocate the type of the outcome of the process (outcome of the self-determination) for the Oromo people.
If the three concepts (bilisummaa, abbaabiyyummaa and hire-murteffannaa) are unspecific to serve as a kaayyoo of the Oromo liberation organizations, then only the two concepts (walabummaa biyyaa and walfaanummaa sabootaa) are good to be concrete and to be used by the organizations. Based on the combination of these two concepts, the concrete kaayyoo’s of Oromo liberation organizations can only be one of the following three:
– regional walfaanummaa sabootaa (walfaanummaa Ethiopia) without nationalwalabummaa (without walabummaa Oromia); for instance, the position of OFC.
– national walabummaa biyyaa without regional walfaanummaa sabootaa, e.g. the supposed position of OLF-QC.
– national walabummaa biyyaa WITH regional walfaanummaa saboota walabaa, which seems to be the position of AFD.
Looking at these three options, the third one could be the beneficial, common and concrete END-kaayyoo for all Oromo liberation fronts. The other two options can be used as the two stops (Diredhawa and Adaama), respectively, on the route of our liberation journey from Djibouti (garbummaa) to Finfinnee (beneficial bilisummaa). What makes then specially our liberation fronts (rebel fronts) not to agree on the above possible common and concrete END-kaayyoo? I can understand when our democratic federalists (opposition parties) like OFC under Weyane’s gunpoint refrain from talking about such END-goal and overtly declare that they do struggle for Oromian autonomy in the Ethiopian context. But where is the hindrance of the liberation fronts not to agree?
As a conclusion, from all the discussions done till now, we can say that Oromo nationalists serving the x-federalists and the fascist f-federalists should give up their irrationality and start to struggle for the minimal sort of sovereignty (Oromian autonomy in Ethiopian context) for their own people, Oromo. That means, they should now start to support the federalists in OFC. Other Oromo federalists, who do try to rally behind the mini-organizations registered for the “election” like AOPDP, GSAP, OALF, OLUF and ONC should also reconsider their stand, converge the vote of all Oromo people to one direction and elect the competent Oromo federalist party (OFC) instead of dispersing Oromo vote in futility.
Last but not least, we could see during the last discussions during and after the OACC conference that there is no any significant ideological difference of kaayyoo among the different Oromo liberation fronts, which can hinder them not to forge unity and make them not to work together. They only need to be ruled by the Oromo tradition of ilaa fi ilaame and discuss on the way forward for the Oromo people. Then, the cooperation and coordination of the Oromo federalist movement with the Oromo liberation movement is the optimal condition to determine our fate in the NEXT step of our liberation journey and to plan a further move to the END. If united and empowered in such sense, we Oromo can make a difference not only in the empire, but even in the whole Horn. So let’s foster tokkummaa of kaayyoo/”unity of purpose”, and move together forward!
* Fayyis Oromia can be reached at email@example.com.