By Leenjiso Horo
“I lived through the whole war,” Thucydides remarked in his History of Peloponnesian War, “being of an age to comprehend events and giving my attention to them in order to know the exact truth about them.”
The content of this article is not new. Its purpose is to remind those who have already read it in one version or another and to bring to the attention of those who did not read it. It unmasks the evolutionary secrete journey that the pro Ethiopian empire Oromo nationals went through in order to organize ODF. Here is what captured my attention. It is Leencoo Baatii’s statement on his interview with OMN with Abdii Fiixee in regard to the return of ODF’s leadership led by Obbo Leencoo Lataa to Finfinnee/Addis Ababa. Here’s Leencoo Baatii’s statement:
“Alatti duunee, reeffi keenya galuurra kun (biyya galuun) filatamaa dha. Ummata keenya keessatti duunee, ummatni keenya nuu booyee, lafa dhalannetti awwaalamuun, awwaalamuu qofaa miti, gaafa awwaalamnu seenaan keenna dubbifamuun…barbaachisaa dha. Mootummaa kana wajjiin hojatuu barbaadna. Heera lafa jiru kana jalatti hojjatuu barbaadna….”
Roughly translated: It is preferable to go home instead of dying in foreign land and our corpses are sent home. We prefer to die among our people that our people weep for us; that we buried in the land of our birth. Not only buried, on the day we are buried our history will be told….We want to work with this government. We want to work under the existing constitution.
First, let me state this. I agree with Ob. Leencoo Baatii that the leadership of all Oromo political organizations must be struggling in their country being among their people rather than living in foreign countries. They have to be in the fire of struggle. The military and political leadership of liberation fronts must be in the field among the combatants rather than in diaspora. The leadership that choose non-violent form of struggle must also be in the country opposing the regime, rejecting its constitution, laws and sharping struggle in the like of Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr, taking all risks—incarceration, tortures, and beatings and if need be death. But the ODF accepted TPLF’s colonial constitution. This contradicts Mahatma Gandhi’s non-violent, peaceful form of struggle. Here the leadership of ODF, forget the oftentimes cited true statement: “Those who do not understand the lessons of history are doomed to repeat them.” The ODF leaders and members forget that Gobanaa Daaccee became instrumental in the conquest of Oromiyaa by helping King Menelik II of Abyssinia. In the conquest, genocide was committed against the Oromo people. With the conquest, colonial constitution was imposed on the Oromo people. Ever since, the Oromo people have been condemning Gobanaa Daaccee as a traitor to his people and country.
It is because of the failure to understand what Gobanaa Daacee had done to Oromiyaa and its people, the ODF leadership and members are now repeating the history of Gobanaa Daaccee, all over again, in the mask of democracy promotion to maintain the colonial empire that Gobanaa Daaccee helped to create. The way, ODF chose is a wrong way. It is Gobanaa Daaccee’s way. That is, accepting colonial constitution is a surrender to the enemy. Hence, the Oromo people will not talk about ODF’s actions as history of heroism, bravery, and courage since the actions taken possess no characters and deeds of heroism, bravery and courage. There is no bravery and heroism in in abandoning objective of struggle for independence; there is no bravery and heroism for surrender to the enemy. No doubt, the Oromo historians will write and the Oromo people will talk about the ODF’s history of sellouts, betrayal, cowardice, renouncement of armed struggle and its abandonment of the objective of Oromo struggle- independence of Oromiyaa. Truly, there is no heroism and bravery for the politico-military leaders of a Liberation Front or leaders of non-violent struggle to live in diaspora by abandoning their country, while the enemy is committing genocide on their people and destroying their country.
The irony is this. The ODF leaderships went to Finfinnee; the colonial authorities chased them out. The ODF’s leaderships failed to tell the colonial regime that they are there to stay in their own country and among their own people and that no one can tell them to leave. Instead, they choose to run away at the speed of light. Indeed, its leaderships travel to Finfinnee to “negotiation terms of surrender” has ended in tragicomic result. Now, they are boasting for going there. The absurdity of all is the leadership of ODF went to Finfinnee to “negotiate terms of surrender” to the fascist colonial regime that has been violating the sovereignty of the Oromo people, the sovereignty of their territory, and the sovereignty of the Oromo’s will. Certainly, this group fell victim to what is oftentimes said “When one looks at a fool with hatred, the fool thinks it is love/ Gowwaan ija jibbansaatiin laallaan jaalala seeya,” kan jedhamu san ta’an. The Tigrayan colonial regime hate the ODF. Not for any other thing but for it constitutes the Oromo nationals. For this, TPLF cunningly looks at ODF with hatred; smiles at its members and leadership with hatred; but the ODF members and leadership think that is a love. It is a miscalculation. It is for this perceived “love”, the ODF delegates led by its president Ob. Leencoo Lataa left for Finfinnee to meet the Tigriyan colonial authorities to negotiate terms of return to Ethiopia. The trip, however, came to a tragicomic end. The delegates were expelled as soon as they arrived at the airport.
On the other side, having seen the genocide, evictions, imprisonments, tortures, maiming of men and women, young and old and illegal land-grab, robbery of resources and treasury of the colonized peoples by the Tigriyan fascist regime since 1991, one may wonder if the saying “Those who do not understand the lessons of history are doomed to repeat them,” should have a corollary: “Those who understand the lessons of history are only too happy to repeat them.” Here is my point. The Tigriyan elites have learned the genocide that Menelik II committed against the Oromo people that led to the conquest of Oromiyaa. These elites have learned the land policy of its predecessors’ in Oromiyaa; they learned the method its predecessors had used to deprive the Oromo people from having a national leadership. These are the lessons of history the Tigriyan elites have learned and understood and so are happily applying them against the Oromo people and their country-Oromiyaa. As it is clear to all Oromo, the Amhara elites ruled Oromiyaa through two polices- extermination and assimilation policies. Through these policies, the Amhara colonialist elites were able to administer colonized Oromiyaa for over a century. On the other side, the Tigriyan elites have one and only one policy-the extermination of the Oromo and the destruction of Oromiyaa. On the basis of this policy, they are hoping, though in vain, to occupy Oromiyaa for the next century in the like of their cousin-the Amhara elites. The ODF leadership and members seem to have failed to understand this policy. Indeed, the ODF is becoming new instrument in the name of democracy promotion to maintain the empire Gobanaa Daaccee helped to create. Having said this, now let me go to the topic of this article.
First and foremost, it is important to debunk the ODF’s fabricated stories of empire democratization. Democracy promotion in an empire is a wishful thinking; it is a fantasy, a myth, not a reality. Empires cannot be democratized nor federalized. Hence, democracy promotion or empire federalization is not the method of conflict resolution between colonies and empire and never has been. However, recently democracy promotion has become a mask, for some Oromo individuals for betraying their own people’s struggle for independence and to divide Oromo nationals. Today, as Oromo nationalists and the Oromo people are struggling for independence of their country–Oromiya, other Oromo nationals, loyalists of the Ethiopian empire, are dressed in the mask of democracy promotion and have betrayed the Oromo struggle for independence of Oromiya.
This article is in response to assertion by those who reject the difference in political objectives (Kaayyoo) as a root cause for the 2001 OLF split in two which was initiated and led by leaders and members of the recently formed Oromo Democratic Front (ODF). The purpose is to seek truth. Truth is based on the facts and the facts speak for the evidences. For this, it is now time to unearth evidences and to understand the dirty tricks played in an effort to abandon the struggle for independence of Oromiyaa in favor of “free and fair election” in Ethiopia or better known as Democratization of Ethiopian Empire. Free and fair election has become a means to disguise a conspiracy to undermine and weaken the struggle for independence of Oromiyaa. Here, one needs to understand the chain of events that gave rise to the formation of the Oromo Democratic Front (ODF). ODF is the result of a silent and secret creeping of a group within the rank of OLF members and leadership in the diaspora with the purpose in mind to dismantle the OLF and its political program. Believe it nor not, the Political Program of 2004, as discussed in the article “Irreconcilable difference between the political program of 1998 and 2004” was a project laid out as a foundation for the formation of the Oromo Democratic Front (ODF). It was written by current leadership of the ODF to amend the OLF Political program of 1998. The amendment was a grievous betrayal of the Oromo struggle for independence.
The betrayal project was conceived long ago by the former members of OLF’s Foreign Relation Office based in Sudan. Suffice it to recall the various attempts that had been made on the part of the leadership of the ODF to divide the members of the OLF and to weaken and then undermine the unity of Oromo nationalists so as to dismantle the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) and its political program in order to organize ODF.
It is to be recalled that the core leadership of ODF is the former participants in the London Conference of May, 1991 on the behalf of the OLF. The London conference, facilitated by the USA, in which the EPLF, TPLF and OLF met to decide on the fate of the Ethiopian empire was a sellout of Oromiya and its independence. This group, however, went to London Conference without the knowledge and approval of Secretary- General and wider leadership of the OLF. Hence, the group was not delegated by the leadership to attend the conference. The same group, again, took the opportunity of the absence of the then General Secretary of the OLF from the country in 1992 to disarm and encamp the Oromo Liberation Army (OLA). That resulted in the decimation of the best and the brightest the OLA by the TPLF. This was the first step in the secret campaign to dismantle the OLF. Alarms were raised at different times by different Oromo and non- Oromo nationals during the “Transitional Charter” of Ethiopia about the existence of a “Peaceful OLF” or in Amharic “Salamawi Onag” or in Oromiffaa “ABO nagayaa” within the OLF. This was the indication of existence of members within the OLF that are ready and willing to renounce armed struggle and abandon the objective/kaayyoo of the struggle. Unfortunately, these alarms were dismissed as enemy propaganda which in time proved not to be the truth. In 1993, the then Deputy Chairman of OLF and the now the President of the ODF returned to Ethiopia without consulting the leadership of the OLF under the pretext of freeing Obbo Ibsaa Guutaamaa who had traveled there for a Peace Conference but was imprisoned by the TPLF. According to reliable sources, once in Finfinnee, the Deputy Secretary too was “imprisoned” and had to sign a paper to never engage in armed struggle before being released. This was followed by his suspension from his vice-Chairmanship in the OLF until he was restored to his position in 1997. The former OLF Deputy Chairman undermined the OLF and its leadership at every opportunity he got.
As the Deputy Secretary of the OLF, the current President of the ODF, would delegate his current Vice President of ODF Dr. Diimaa Nagawo and one other person to meet with Dr. Ismael Nokko, General Secretary of World Lutheran Federation (WLF), who was interested in facilitating a peace effort between Meles Zenawi and the OLF leadership. The meeting took place around the end of 1997 without the knowledge and approval of the General Secretary of the OLF-Galaaasaa Dilboo. Dr. Nokko presented the following pre-conditions under which Meles Zenawi wanted to enter into a “Talk with the OLF”: “All they [OLF leaders] have to do is to (1) publicly renounce violence and (2) work within the framework of the constitution and publicly announce acceptance of constitution.” The then Deputy secretary and the now President of ODF and his Vice President of ODF, Dr. Diimaa Nagawo wrote a letter accepting these pre-conditions on March 17, 1998. In that letter they stated, “After careful deliberation and several discussion with you, we are ready to state our position on the two issues raised in your communication.” Then the statement of acceptance was worded in these term:
- On the question of armed activities: We would like to inform you that OLF will immediately upon the commencement of the discussion with Ethiopian government in preparation for the resumption of dialogue, unilaterally suspend any and all armed activities pending the conclusion of termination of such discussion or dialogue.
- On the issue of constitution: We are prepared to accept the present Ethiopian constitution as an existing reality, subject to the establishment of a mechanism of independent adjudication between government and individuals, parties or institutions on Constitutional legal matters, whilst reserving our rights to actively and publicly promote constitutional change.
This statement was signed by Dr. Fidoo Eebbaa at the request of the then Deputy Secretary Ob. Leencoo Lataa for the then Secretary- General of OLF, Galaasaa Dilboo. Upon learning what transpired in his name, The Secretary-General wrote a letter to his Deputy Secretary Leencoo Lataa, on May 15, 1998, asking him to write a letter of a cancellation of the commitment that he entered into to Secretary General of WLF. The Deputy Chairman Leecoo Lataa rejected the request. Then he wrote a response letter to the General Secretary of the OLF, Galaasaa Dilboo, in Oromo language. The letter reads in part:
“Xalayaa akkasii barressuun anaafis ta’ee, namicha itti barreeffamuuf danqaa ta’a jedheen ilaala….Caalatti ammoo, ahadii seename sanatti jabeesseen amana…Waan ta’eef, ajaja kee hojii irra olchuun amantii kiyya kan faalleessu ta’a. Kanaaf, xalayaa ati barreessi nan jettu barreessuu gonkumaa akka hin dandeenyeen si beeksisa.”
Roughly translated as: To write that type of letter, I believe, is obstacle for me as well as to the person to whom it is to be written…. Above all, I strongly believe in the commitment that is made. For this, to implement your instruction or order contradicts my commitment. Therefore, I inform you that I will never write that type of a letter you instructed or ordered me to write.
Such is the height of arrogance. This statement clearly shows there was no working relationship within the leadership in the organization and that the Deputy Secretary of the OLF Ob. Leecoo Lataa undermined the organization and its leadership at every turn.
The refusal of the request from the General Secretary amounts to disloyalty. It is clearly insubordination and disobedience contrary to the Office of Deputy Secretary. It is an abrogation of obligation and responsibility of one’s office. Such action is tantamount to undermining the organization, its leadership, and the struggle and a violation of the constitution of the organization. Dealing with or entering into agreement with foreign individuals or organizations or with enemies without the knowledge and approval of the General Secretary and wider leadership is a plot and a game of intrigue to overtake the organization. Such agreement was entered into with Meles Zenawi’s regime without the knowledge and consent of the General Secretary and wider leadership of the OLF just as was the case in encamping and disarming the Oromo Liberation Army (OLA).
On April 12, 1998, the Secretary- General of OLF, Galaasaa Dilboo wrote a letter of suspension of his Deputy Secretary’s commitment and the accepted pre-conditions in a letter to General Secretary of the WLF. Here is the content of the letter:
”The two fundamental issues dealt with in the letter have been repeatedly raised to OLF by different groups and individuals who were and are attempting to conduct a meaningful peace negotiation between the OLF and the Ethiopian government. However, recent political and military development as well as wide spread terror campaign unleashed on innocent Oromo people have forced us to give priority to these urgent matters and review all situations before going into further negotiation.”
It was under this condition that the May 1998 Extra-Ordinary National Congress of OLF was held. Despite being invited, all those who accepted or entered into commitment of the above-mentioned pre-conditions failed to attend the Extra-Ordinary Congress. That Congress elected a new set of leadership to re-build the organization including a new Deputy Secretary along with the re-election of the then Secretary-General.
Following this, the group systematically worked using its political position in the organization in influencing the new leadership to move to Eritrea. The moving of leadership to Eritrea, helped them for the next step. The step was to work to split the organization. In order to serve this purpose, after 1999, the OLF was packed with those Oromo nationals who have fallen under the corrupting influence of Abyssinian political culture and ideological outlook. In this attempt, they successfully created rift and disharmony within the members. It is these individuals that constituted the core of the ODF. These are “the Oromo” the successive Amhara nafxanyaa and Tigre nafxanyaa regimes created for themselves. And now, they presented the 1998 Congress as the root cause of the difference, conflict and hence the split of the OLF in 2001. On December 15, 1999, a letter was written to the OLF Foreign Office based in Washington, DC. The letter carried a statement of democratization of the Ethiopian empire in Oromo language in these terms:
“ABOn, sirna polotikaa Impaarichaa kan maraaf wal-qixa ta’ee fi haqaa keessaa qooda fudhachuun qabsaawee mirga hiree murteeffannoo ummatootaa mirkaneessuuf qophii ta’uu ibsa.”
Roughly translated as: The OLF is ready to participate in the political system of the empire where it is fair to and equal for all in order to struggle for the realization of the right self-determination of all nations whereby self-determination is interpreted as “citizenship rights.” Following this, in 2001 after attempts to resolve the political difference was failed the OLF split. This led to the wholesale desertions of some members of the OLF from Kaayyoo bilisummaa, by being accepting the “democratization” of the Ethiopian empire. These members forgot that the center of gravity of the OLF’s strength is its Kaayyoo of struggle/objective of struggle-the independence of Oromiyaa. These groups cannot be trusted with the struggle for independence. They are irresolute to liberate Oromiyaa and so can impede the struggle for liberation anytime.
After the split, they organized the Bergen Conference of 2004. At the Conference, “free and fair election” was accepted. Following it, the same year these individuals helped organize the 2004 ABO Shanee-Gumii Congress where the today’s ODF members forced amendment of the Political Program of 1998. The same individuals wrote the amendments to the Political Program of 1998. Despite this, Shanee-OLF also takes direct responsibility and ownership of amendment to the Political Program.
ABO Shanee knowingly or unknowingly or willingly or unwillingly became a victim of these individuals and their political scheme. The scheme was to overtake leadership from ABO Shanee so as to go with a full speed for negotiation with Meles Zenawi’s regime and totally abandon the OLF political Program. As a first step toward this goal, first alliance was made with Coalition for Unity and Democracy (CUD) and Ethiopian Patriotic Front/ye-Arbanyooch Ginbar in forming Alliance for Freedom and Democracy (AFD) in 2006. Just in case anyone has forgotten, after the alliance was made under the pressure of today’s leaders and members of ODF and with support of Kinijit and Ethiopian Patriotic Front, lawsuit was filed in July 19, 2007 at Fourth Judicial District Court of the State of Minnesota against Qaama Cehumsa of OLF (TA-OLF) over the use of the name of OLF, its logo and its flag. The lawsuit alleged that the name OLF is Shanee Gumii’s trade mark; a business entity. And so, it argued that TA-OLF by using the name OLF, its logo and its flag violated the “Uniform Deceptive Trade Practices Act,” and interfered in the “Prospective economic advantage” of Shanee Gumii of OLF. After hearing the case, the court dismissed the case and so TA-OLF won at the court.
Later on, when some members of ABO Shanee-Gumii understood the dangerous and sinister political scheme of these individuals and became reluctant to go along and confronted them, they split from ABO Shanee-Gumii and formed Jijjiiramaa in 2008. Members of Jijjiiramaa were the Abyssinian created personalities. One of its leaders, Abbaa Biyyaa Abbaa Joobir has to say this in his interview with Abyssinian media outlet: “In my birthplace, Gibe area, Aba Jifar consented to the idea of unity willingly and peacefully” to the conquest of Oromiya. Abba Jifar was one of those who betrayed the Oromo people in support of Menelik II in his conquest of Oromiya. However, Jijjiiramaa was rejected by the nationalists and the Oromo people alike. Consequently, Jijjiiramaa factionalized and fractured into motley of groupings. For this reason, the core group of Jijjiiramaa changed the name Jijjiiramaa to Oromo Dialogue Forum (ODF)/Waltajjii Mariii Oromoo (WMO). Then out of the womb of Oromo Dialogue Forum (ODF), the Oromo Democratic Front (ODF) hatched out. And now, finally the cat is out of the bag: this was the secret plan that the group had been pursuing over years. Hence, the formation of ODF is the result of years of secret underground organizing of an organization within the OLF. It was for this in 2012, the former Deputy Secretary, Ob. Leencoo Lataa was purged by Shanee-OLF before the formation of Oromo Dialogue Form. The Deputy Secretary, himself disclosed this information on his interview with Radio Simbirtuu on April 12, 2013. As a well-respected and high placed member of Shanee-OLF source, who wants to remain anonymous told this writer, the purpose of former Deputy Secretary’s purge from the then Shanee-OLF membership was for his active role to remove its chairman from the Chairmanship of the Shanee-OLF.
The ODF’s political platform of struggle:
The political platform of struggle of the ODF is for Ethiopian empire “federalization,” for its citizenship. Here is what the ODF members and leadership have been saying in regard to self-determination. ODF political program says, “Self-determination means citizenship.” It goes on, “We interpret the exercise of self-determination as a process that transforms all subjects into citizens.” Hence, it says that its political platform is to struggle for “citizenship” and to “advocate citizenship rights not only for the Oromo but also for all other peoples inhabiting the empire, including those from which the present and past dominant elite arose.” It is therefore crystal clear that ODF has reduced the Oromo struggle for self-determination –which universally understood to mean independence, to the question of “citizenship in the Ethiopian empire. That is, it has reduced the question of Oromo people for independence from the Ethiopian empire to the question of citizenship of Ethiopian empire. It asserts the right to self-determination within Ethiopian empire’s system of government. It is from this wrong interpretation of right of self-determination the Oromo capitulationists gave the meaning of “bilisummaa/liberation to people and that of independence/walabummaa to a country.” But in Oromo political parlance, meaning, and understanding the word “bilisummaa” is equivalent to the word “walabummaa.” The group’s core political platform is the federalization of the Ethiopian empire, including the colonists. The Political Program of 2004 was a first move of this group as a first step to the formation of ODF. The leaderships of ODF were the architects of this political program.
To this effect, the political programs of 1974/76 as amended in 1998 by the national Congress of the OLF was abandoned. Here, the key and the main pillars of Oromo national liberation struggle in the OLF political program the articles II, III and V were removed from ODF’s political program.
Article II. Diinoota Qabsoo Kanaa
- Mootumootni Itoophiyaa kan sirna Impaayerummaa biyyichaa tiksaan hundi diina
qabsoo bilisummaa ummata Oromoo ti.
- Humnootniin aangoo harkaa buute deebifachuun sirana impaayerummaa biyyichaa turfachuu dharraa’anii fi mirga hiree murteeffanna ummatootaa dura dhaabatan diina qabsoo Oromoo ti.
- Humnootni alaa kanneen impaarummaa Itoophiyaa tiksuu irraa daantaa qabaachuun mirkanaawuu mirga hiree murteeffannaa, diimokraasii, nagaa fi kabajjamuu mirga dhala namaa dura dhaabbatan diina qabsoo bilisummaa Oromoo ti.
- Oromoonni gantoonni murnaannis ta’ee nam-tokkeen impaayerichi tiksfamuu irraa dantaa qabaachuun bilisummaa Oromoo dura dhaabbatan diina qabsoo bilisummaa Oromoo ti.
Article III: Utubaa Qabsichaa
Ummatni bal’aan Oromiyaa fi sab-boontotni Oromoo akeeka sagantaa ABO fudhatanii
Qabsichatti hiriiranii fi dirmatan utubaa qabsoo kanaa ti.
Article IV: Firoota Qabsoo kanaa
- Sabootni akkuma Oromoo kiyyoo kolonii Itoophiyaa jalatti kufan ummata Oromoo
wajjiin hiree walfakkaataa qaban.
- Sabootni cunqurfamoon kanneen diigamuu sirna impaayerummaa fi mirkanaa’uu mirga hiree murteeffannaatti amananii qabsaa’an firoota qabsoo bilisummaa Oromoo ti.
- Namootni, dhaabootni, fi humnootni saba cunqurfasaa keessaa ta’ee alaa kanneen mirga hiree murteeffannaa ummatootaa, diimokraasii, fi nagaa, beekan, kabajjanii fi deggeran firoota qabsoo bilisummaa Oromoo ti.
- Biyyootii fi ummatootni kanneen mirga hiree murteeffannaa, diimokraasii fi nagaa deggeranii fi gargaaran firoota qabsoo bilisummaa Oromoo ti.
Article V: Sagantaa Qabsoo (A. Akeeka Siyaasaa)
Hundeen akeeka qabsoo kanaa mirga hiree murteeffannaa ummata oromoo argmsiisuuf sirna Impaayera Itoophiyaa diiguudhaan, Oromiyaa kolonii, hacuuccaa fi saaminsa jalaa bilsa baasuun mootummaa walaba Oromiyaa dhaabee iggitii itti godhuu dha. Kunis kan mirkanaawu mirga qabutti dhimma bahee ummatni Oromoo mootummaa walaba isaa labsachuu yookaan ummatoota biraa wajjiin tokkummaa politickaa haaraa ijaarachuuf mirtii kennatuun ta’a.
Having removed these articles, the right of self-determination in the Political Program of ODF is give a special interpretation. That special interpretation is individual self- determination of which citizenship, individual liberty and freedom are its integral part. The leaders and members of ODF taking oath of allegiance to the constitution of Ethiopia, raising their hands, and discarding the Oromo’s flag for independence of Oromiyaa and renouncing what this flag stands for.
Here are ODF’s words of acceptance of Ethiopian constitution and renouncement of the objective of the Oromo struggle : ‘We, the founding members of the ODF, hereby declare, on oath, that we accept Ethiopian constitution; that we absolutely and entirely renounce and disown the belief, the cause and the claim and loyalty and support to the struggle for establishment of an independence Democratic Republic of Oromiyaa and its flag; that we renounce the meaning, the purpose, the objective and goals of this Flag we have been a part; that we replace these meanings with citizenship of Ethiopia; that we will accept, support and defend the Constitution and laws of the Ethiopia against all enemies —foreign and domestic; that we will bear true faith and allegiance to Ethiopia; and that we take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; so help us God.’
Here are two roads that are open to you for choice. One is the ODF’s way―empire democratization. And the other is the OLF’s way—the independence way. Hence, you have a choice at this pivotal time of the Oromo national struggle. The choice is whether you retreat to the colonialist camp and unite your mind and heart, your body and soul into “democratization” of Ethiopian empire—the ODF way and live in grief , shame and humiliation; or you join the Oromo people and their nationalists camp and unite your mind and heart, your body and soul in the struggle for the independence of Oromiyaa— the OLF’s way, so as to live in pride and with dignity for participating in the struggle of your people for independence.
ODF’s political line is irreconcilable with and in contradiction to that of the OLF. ODF’s political program of empire federalization is intended simply to delivery Oromiyaa permanently into a shameful state of Abyssinian vassalage. ODF wants the Oromo people to give up what they have and what they believe in order to “democratize” Ethiopian empire. To this effect, in 1992 the OLA was encamped. OLA is defense army of Oromiyaa. With its encampment, the Oromo people lost their defense. This embolden the Tigriyan colonial regime. With this, the flow of Tigriyans settlement in Oromiyaa has taken the proportions of a tidal wave. More settlers are still pouring in and around Finfinnee. This massive migration for land-grab by the Tigriyans into Oromiyaa has particularly created a tsunami of displacement or eviction of the Oromo population in Finfinnee/Addis Ababa and its vicinities. More than ever before, today intensive settlement is going on to change the demographics of Central Oromiyaa to make Oromo a minority. If we allow this to continue, in a few years the Oromo in central Oromiyaa will found themselves a minority. This is a recipe for splitting Oromiyaa into two—east and west. This has been and is TPLF’s grand plan, among other things. Here what has to be understood is that the Tigriyan elites see Oromiyaa as a shared resource.
Hence, to control Oromiyaa and its resources are their ultimate goal. Their grand plan has been and is to take Oromo land until there is no square foot of land left under the control of the Oromo people. Since the last twenty five years, the Tigriyan authoritarian fascist regime has been controlling the political, economic and social life of our people and enforced the control by iron-fisted repression. I would say, the inconvenient truth is the encampment of the Oromo Liberation Army (OLA), the absence of all leaderships of the Oromo liberation movements from the country and the splits of Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) into factions have provided excellent opportunities for the TPLF for the theft of the Oromo land, for imprisonment and committing genocide against the Oromo people. The sad thing is, most of the Oromo are quite about these issues, neither the Oromo Mass Medias nor the members of the Oromo liberation organizations have been willing to step in and tell the leadership “Enough” to be in exile. And, I have yet to see the Oromo Mass Media question the politico-military leadership, the wisdom of their continuous absence from the battle-field of struggle in Oromiyaa. Media must play the role of Media; the Oromo political leadership must be asked hard questions. Leadership presence in the country and its struggle in the country is fundamental to victory.
It is for land, the Tigriyan colonial administration has been inviting people from around the globe to Oromiyaa in the name of “investment.” Those who involved in the Oromo land grab include those Ethio-Oromo quislings—the latter-day Gabanaas in diaspora with irrational addiction for land grab. All these are consequence of abandoning armed struggle. This is the ODF’s way. Now the choice is yours as to which side to choose. In the end, however, you need to understand that the Oromo people will have the last word, that of victory, against the colonial regime, its brute use of force, its injustice, its cruelties, and against its Oromo collaborators—the latter-day gobanaas.
These individuals haven been falsely claiming that the two political programs are the same except that the political program of 2004 substituted self-determination for independence, knowing the very fact that the phrase self-determination means different things. In the context of political program of 2004, self-determination does not mean independence. It is, therefore, vitally important to separate the truth from the false claim. For this, it is essential to begin with the OLF political objective laid out in the Political Program of 1974/76 and in the Constitution of 1998 and political program of 1998. Then using them as the basis, to compare and contrast the political objectives laid out in the two political programs in terms of right of nation to self-determination. Recently self- determination has triple meanings: One is for colonized nations; the second is for oppressed nations and nationalities and third is for individuals. The first two are collective self-determination while the third is individual self-determination.
Self-determination is simply a collective rather than an individual right, Secondly, self- determination has to be thought of as a right of peoples or nation or nations rather than governments. Moreover, we also speak of individual self-determination. Individual self- determination is not the same with collective self-determination. It denotes personal freedom, personal liberty and et cetera. It must also be clear that individual self- determination is compatible with collective self-determination when it is conceived at the communal level. Individuals can flourish in their self-chosen communities where social customs, religious beliefs, cultural values, freedom of opinion and association and et cetera are protected by laws made through the exercise of political self-determination of the peoples. Therefore, democracy and political liberty can only be achieved when people freely join together and form a governmental system of their like. It could be federal, union or association. The option to join or not to join the other nations and nationalities in a new arrangement is the exclusive right of the Oromo people; it is not job of any organization.
In this regard, article 20 of the African Charter states in part, “All peoples shall have the right to existence. They shall have the unquestionable and inalienable right to self- determination. They shall freely determine their political status and shall pursue their economic and social development according to the policy they have freely chosen. Colonized or oppressed peoples shall have the right to free themselves from the bonds of domination by resorting to any means recognized by the international community.” Furthermore, long ago the international community unequivocally stated that it “Reaffirms the legitimacy of the struggle of the peoples under colonial and alien domination and recognized as being entitled to the right of self-determination to restore to themselves that right by any means at their disposal.” The phrase “by any means at their disposal” unambiguously legalized the use of armed means as a legitimate means for asserting one’s right to self-determination. The phrase self-determination has only one meaning in the case of people under colonial occupation and alien domination-that is independence.
All in all, we have been seeing the Oromo political leaders going in a circle in which the same dangerously absurd, tragic politics of “negotiation” with the enemy that occupied our country by force of guns are played over and over again. Such is political insanity— doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results. It is oftentimes said, “A thorn is removed by a thorn/Qoree qoreen baasu.” The enemy that occupied one’s country by force of gun can only be removed by force of gun. No other option. TPLF is occupying Oromiyaa by killing thousands of our people. It is a killer regime.
Now the only way to stop the killer and killings is to destroy the killer. Negotiation is not an option to seek; it is a means for surrender. We need to assess our achievements, understand our failures, and learn from the road taken that led the struggle astray and redirect a new action. The only way to independence, the only way to ensure independence, and the only way to defeat the enemy and remove it from Oromiyaa is through unity and armed struggle. Unity is the way to go; armed struggle is the way to go to liberate Oromiyaa. Now, this is the way we have to go. No exception. I do not see any alternative way. Whoever, opposes unity and armed struggle or weakens or impedes unity and armed struggle is the enemy of the Oromo people and their struggle for independence. Here, it must be clear to both the enemies and friends of the Oromo people that in this struggle of ours, we will surely establish fully free and fully independent sovereign Democratic Republic of Oromiyaa, so long as the sky is above us and the ground is below us, and as long as the sun rises in the east and sets in the west. This is the determination and commitment made by all the Oromo nationalists. It is for this, hundreds of thousands of the Oromo nationals sacrificed their precious lives. Finally, I would like to leave you with these words of Abraham Lincoln which are relevant to the Oromo nationalists. The words read as:
“The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth”(Abraham Lincoln, Gettysburg Address, Nov. 19, 1863).
Oromiyaa Shall Be Free!