By Bakalcho Barii
In their bitter and long experience under Abyssinian colonization, the Oromo’s and the Southern peoples of the Ethiopian empire have gone through a lot. The marginalization, exploitation and abuse under successive Abyssinian regimes targeted not only on their identity and culture, but also dispossessing of their resources by evicting them from their ancestral lands, and also levying hefty taxation to the central government to keep them impoverished so that they can be restricted and pre-occupied with worrying about where their next daily bread comes from and have no capacity to demand their economic, political rights they deserve according to their size and resources.
In order that power remains under the controls of the Amahara and Tigre ethnic groups, successive Abyssinians regimes put on different masks under different regimes and the degree to which each successive Abyssinians regimes exploited and abused the Oromo’s and other people’s in the South of the empire largely depended on the internal political struggle among themselves and the world political outlook of the time. All of them from the time of Menelik II to the current Tigre rule, they were busy drawing strategies and tactics on how to impoverish the Oromo’s so that the Oromo’s will not demand their fair share in the empire.
As one Oromo elder puts it “they came, they killed our older and young men, and then raped our women. And then we were told our ancestral land belongs to the state, and we had to pay taxation on top of that. But the abuse did not stop there; they forced us to pay taxes on how many heads of cattle we own, how many coffee trees we planted and own. They have stolen our coffee and other resources and sold them to foreign markets. In return, they bought modern guns to their invading army, who killed, arrested and evicted us from our possessions at their will. This Oromo elder further tells the hellish experiences of the Oromo’s under different Abyssinians rulers and conclude his remark in the following. They (the Abyssinians), not only invaded, conquered our country, but also imposed hefty taxation and bought modern guns by our resources, they also started demanding taxation in the lives of our younger men and women to fight their dirty war.” For example, in Emperor Haile Selassie’s war with Somalia in the 1960s, the majority of his army were conscripts from the Oromo population, and the majority of those who perished in that war were the Oromo’s.
In my past few articles, I tried to point out the methods, conspiracy, tactics employed by which each successive Abyssinian regime used to hide the killings, rape, marginalization, and exploitation of Oromo material and human resources. All these atrocities against the Oromo’s can be further explained or viewed in the world political Order of the day or years.
Emperor Menelik II exploited the then disagreement that existed among the three European colonial powers, namely Italy, France and the British, who were jostling for influence on the then Abyssinian warlords, and cleverly manipulated this rivalry among those European powers to acquire modern guns and out-gunned the Oromo resistance. By the diplomatic and military advice of those European powers, Emperor Menelik II managed to get away with the confiscation of Oromo land and their properties, and the rape and the genocide he committed against our people. Menelik’s invading army was led and aided in his colonial war of expansion by internal Oromo collaborators headed by Gobena Dacci, whom, past and present generations of Oromo’s blame for his role in assisting the invading Menelik’s army and condemning the Oromo’s to their current predicaments.
After the death of king Menelik and the temporary promotion of Lij Iyasu to the empire throne, Oromo’s felt temporary relief, not because the invading Menelik’s colonial army halted terrorising the Oromo population, but Lij Iyasu being half Oromo might save them from the savagery attack and displacements being carried out by the Abyssinian army. However, the respites the hope the Oromo’s had wished from Lij Iyasu was shot lived because the then Ras Teferi and later Emperor Haile Selassie conspired with the Abyssinian clergy, who felt threatened by Lij Iyasu being half Oromo, sent him to prison, and consequently killed him and annotated Ras Teferi as the new king of the Ethiopian empire.
As soon as assuming the title of kings of kings, Emperor Haile Selassie introduced the official language and religion of the empire to be Amharic and Orthodox Christianity by decree. Oromo children were forced to learn the Amharic language and the traditional Oromo religion was replaced by the official Orthodox Christianity. Constructions of Churches were implemented in full swing in the garrison towns established to administer the colonies. Oromo students were told to change and adapt the Amharic names. Those garrison towns and famous Oromo landscapes were changed and replaced by Amharic names. Under Emperor Haile Selassie, the Amaraiztion of the Oromo’s and other southern nation’s people was implemented at higher speed. Oromo’s and others were told to deny their identities and take on the Abyssinian identity under the guise of the greater Ethiopia. Those Oromo’s who served the empire during this time were kept at arm length from power, except serving in the army. Those who started questioning the marginalization’s of their people were secretly kidnapped and made disappear. According to many historians and political observers of the Ethiopian empire, it was King Haile Selassie, who fully employed and practiced the French style of colonialism, where the indigenous rulers under king Menelik were replaced by Amahric speaking alien warlords, the local religion and languages were replaced by the king’s official decrees.
The 1974 of the popular revolution that disposed emperor Haile Selassie brought some hope in the eyes of the few Oromo intellectuals to rid-off over half a Century old of Abyssinian colonization of the Oromo’s and the south. Those hopes were quickly dashed when the Military Junta or the Darg, under the pretexts of provisional Authority assumed power. To gain the supports of the Oromo’s and the Southern nations, the Darg proclaimed “Land to the tiller”, which was very popular in the Oromo and southern nation’s areas. Due to this popular proclamation, the Military Junta managed to garner popular support in the South, including the Oromo areas. It also received support from the then Oromo elites, who believed the empire’s nations and nationalities question for self-rule, freedom and equality will be entertained by the new rulers. These Oromo elites even went further by providing ideological support to the Junta, which later came and haunted them. The Darg quickly embraced Socialism as its ideology and started an all-out war in the towns and cities of the empire against those it deemed enemies of the state. There is still no official record on how many innocent lives have been lost during the Military Junta’s urban warfare, commonly known as “Red Terror.” But what is known as a fact was that many Oromo intellectuals, farmers, students, who innocently believed in changing the empire for good, were hunted down and killed. Like its predecessors, the Military Junta once rested power under their control; started acting under the guise of “defending the motherland slogans” terrorized our people. There are millions of Oromo men who were kidnapped and forcefully conscripted into the militia army in the Eritrean war and before the Ethio-Somali war of early 1980s. To fight these two wars, the Darg and its local cadres kidnapped peaceful Oromos from market places, schools and from their homes. Millions of nameless and faceless young Oromo men were used as canon fodders in successive Abyssinians wars and were left without any traces and proper burial. The saddest and meanest part of this story was that, any information and the names and the whereabouts of those young Oromo men, who were forcefully kidnapped from their village and perished in fighting Abyssinian wars, were not revealed to their fathers, mothers, sisters and relatives. It was estimated in the recent war, 1998-2000 between Eritrea and the wayyane lead Ethiopian regime, and over one hundred thousand lives were lost. Among those, the majorities of those wars were Oromo men, who were used as canon fodders in clearing land mines.
The collapse of the Communist bloc in the late 1980s has accelerated the collapse of many totalitarian and authoritarian regimes in Africa, Asia and Eastern Europe. Of those authoritarian regimes that became the first causalities in Africa, was the military Junta in the Ethiopian empire. There are still many who would argue that had it not been for the sudden collapse of the Communist bloc, the Military Junta in Addis could not have lost its war with the Eritrean and the wayyane rebellions. There are also who argue that, yes, the sudden collapse of the Communist bloc accelerated the demise of the military Junta in Finfinne, ultimately, it was only the internal wars in Eretria, Tigray and Oromia that has brought down the military Junta in 1991.
The London Conference and the Rise of Minority TPLF regime as Successor’s of the Ethiopian Empire
Many, particularly the Oromo and the Southern people’s political elites criticize the American government handling and influencing of the outcome of the London Conference between the dying Military regime in Finfinne, the EPLF, TPLF and the Oromo Liberation Front. According to these elites, the American representative headed by Herman Cohen and the Oromo Liberation Front representatives were at the conference to sign off an already cooked document between TPLF and EPLF, the former one to rule from Finnfinne and the later to rule a de-facto independent Eretria from Asmara. Many still question what if any, the representatives of the Oromo Liberation Front got from the conference. These elites even go further by saying the participation of the Oromo Liberation Front and the USA representatives at the conference were to accept and legitimize the outcome that was already cooked in TPLF’s and EPLF’s kitchen.
About a year ago, just by sheer accident, I had a chance to watch a documentary called “Apocalypse: The Rise of Hitler”, which chronicles Hitler’s life as a failed painter and far-right activist up to his elections Chancellor of Germany, leading to his relentless rise to power, culminating in the beginning of WWII. I would recommend this documentary to all Oromo’s, particularly to the Diaspora to have an insight understanding of how TPLF operates in current Ethiopian empire, in particular in Oromia.
According to this documentary, after his failed attempt to be elected in the Munich municipality, and his one year imprisonment following that, Adolf Hitler decided that the only way to overthrow the then Weimar government and rise to power was through democratic election. However, his ambition for political power was curtailed because the then Germany was enjoying a period of political stability and economic prosperity. Following the 1929 Wall Street crash and consequently the rise of unemployment in Germany plus the Treaty of Versailles in 1919, which punished Germany to pay compensation for its war crimes, propelled Hitler to seize power by democratic means. After seizing power, Hitler killed, jailed and sent all his political opponents, the Communist and the National Democrats into different labour camps, where many of them died due to the ill-treatments, mal-nutrition, and diseases they developed at these concentration and labour camps . This horrible practice of Adolf Hitler reminded me of the de-grading, in-humane, torture, mal-nutrition our brave young and old suffered in the hands of TPLF and EPLF soldieries in the barracks or concentration camps that was designed by TPLF and EPLF but got final approval by some of our leaders back in 1992. It also reminded me the millions of Oromos who were taken to different concentration camps after OLF withdrew from TG, where thousands of them died there, many thousands died due the diseases and the torture they went under in the hands of wayyane and Shabia solders.
In this article, I am demonstrating how Adolf Hitler’s political philosophy and thinking is exactly similar to with that of the current TPLF leaders, who have done and will do anything to crash their opponents, particularly TPLF’s current deliberated, detailed and calculated genocide on the Oromos and warn all Oromos around the globe to wake and defend, not only their people but they themselves as individuals. Because the existence of Oromo’s as an individual is under a real threat leave alone the Oromo people. Before I further go on and show the severity and the real and imminent danger that is facing all Oromos as individuals and as a nation, let me briefly say on factors and pre-conditions that propelled the minority TPLF regime into the empire’s throne following the London Conference of 1991. What are these factors and pre-conditions?
1/during the periods of emperor Menilik II expansion to the Oromo and the South areas, Tigres participated in that war as junior foot soldiers. Prior to that, the Tigere king Yohannes lost the battle to Menelik II and forced to submit his forces and power to Menelik. Humilation No.1
2/ Following the coming to power of Haile Sealssie (again from Amhara) infuriated the then Tigrian elites and war lords and they decided to raise arms in the first wayyane uprising of the 1930s. In that uprising, Haile sealssie managed to co-opt the then leaders of the first wayyane leaders by rewarding them with local and regional leaders. Humilation No.2
3/ after the fall of the imperial regime by the popular students’ movement in 1974, the current TPLF leaders had much hope to re-gain their lost power to the Amhara’s. However, the sudden rise of the Military Junta to grab power following the popular revolution dashed once and for all their dreams and hopes of the Tigrian elites to ascend to the imperial throne for the last time. These three factors absolutely convinced the current TPLF leaders that there were no way the Tigrian elite can defeat Amhara nationalism and seize powerin the Ethiopian empire. For them, the Military Junta was the extension of Amhara nationalism in military uniform. They also recognized that due to the smaller population size of the Tigre region coupled with no significant natural resources to bargain with, the current TPLF leaders decided that the only way to defeat Amahara nationalism was to liberateTigray and Eretria and ultimately establish Greater Tigray Republic that can merge with Eretria on a confederation.
For example, in the 1980s, the Military Junta was much closer in defeating the Eritrean People’s Liberation Front forces, and EPLF was rescued from that looming defeat by TPLF fighters. This was a major strategic victory over Amhara nationalism for the current TPLF leaders. Therefore, rescuing EPLF from total defeat was a well deliberated, organized decision by TPLF leaders for their long strategic ambitions.
After that major defeat in the hands of TPLF and EPLF, the Darg soldiers lost their confidence and moral begun to crumble among its foot soldiers. As a result, many of them were captured; many more deserted the army and start surrendering to both EPLF and TPLF soldiers. On top of that, after that humiliating defeat, dictator Mengistu went and executed some of the military generals who he considered failed in their leadership on that battle. This further demoralised the soldiers and cracks within the army started to show up.
The sheer volume of captured or surrendered Darg soldiers gave a huge opportunity for both EPLF and TPLF leaders, not only as a fighting unit against the Darg, but also how they best they can use these captured soldiers when they further move into the Amahara, Oromo and Southern nations. With the full blessing of EPLF and after receiving a guarantee for Eritrean independent, these captured soldiers were handed over to the control of TPLF, which in turn made them into PDOS and saddled them to Oromos and the Southern people’s areas. According to TPLF’s policy, the only force that can withstand and ultimately curtail its ambitions of looting and destroying the resources of the South and in the Oromo areas is the Oromo’s. For this reason, TPLF leaders are bent on not only defeating Oromo nationalism, but the only way they can stay in power is by killing Oromo’s by any means they see fit. Those Oromos they cannot kill, they have to make sure they remain impoverished and destitute. For that measure, they have to create continuous conflicts between Oromos and their neighbouring people at different occasions. For this evidence, look at the TPLF instigated conflicts between the Sidam people and the Oromos. The Sidama and the Oromo people, not only lived in peace for centuries, but also share unbreakable culture. 2/ The conflicts between the Gumuz and the Oromo in Western Oromia, 3/ The constant conflicts between the Somalis and the Oromo in Eastern Oromo, 4/ The conflicts between the Afar, Issa and the Oromo in Eastern and Central Oromia, 5/ The conflicts between the Kenyan Somalis and the Oromos in the South. These conflicts will never stop. This is one method of TPLF using to break the will of the Oromo and spray the seeds of division and conflicts between the People we lived in peace for centuries.
Another tactic TPLF is using in Oromia to break the will of our people is to harass and then kill educated and businessmen Oromos. Second tactic, harass these educated Oromo’s and force them to flee abroad. This tactic is in use to deny Oromos any future leaders. I can go on and go on to expose the genocide TPLF is committing against the Oromo nation and its people.
While committing these heinous crimes in Oromia, some of you might ask how TPLF is getting away these crimes in this age of globalization. As I indicated above in this article, TPLF leaders knew that they have successfully defeated Amahara nationalism, and the only nationalism that is in their way and threaten their hegemony will be Oromo nationalism, and therefore it must be defeated by any means and at any cost.
In order to cover up their crime in Oromia, TPLF regimes has recruited some power individuals like former Ambassadors and lobbyists such as Peter Pham-Michael S. Ansari Africa Center, whom TPLF pay them millions of dollars to hide and defend their atrocities on the Oromos and other nations without any challenges. All of these former ambassadors and lobbyists will always one thing. The TPLF regime is much better than the previous regime before it.
To my Oromo compatriots in the Diasporas and at home- I have a message for you. If TPLF is allowed anymore time or given more years because of our failure to rise up as one nation and defend our people not tomorrow but now, the survival of each Oromo individual is in immediate danger. TPLF has already passed the Darg, Haile Selassie combined in the number of Oromos it killed, displaced, jailed, and its race is with that of Menelik, who committed genocide on Oromos and other nations and got away with it because he was then supported by powerful three European powers. In turn, TPLF regime is supported by the most powerful nation on earth, the USA and some European powers, who fund his genocide on our people. Therefore, if we do not rise up as a nation under attack now not tomorrow, TPLF will intensify its crime under any pre-text and as it sees fit.
Peace and Glory for those Oromo men, women, young, old who died for the liberation of their Father land!!!