Partisanship vs neutrality
BY KOREE TOKKUMMAA
One of the most remarkable achievements the Oromo in Diaspora has registered is the impressive leap in the realm of media networks. The dedicated Oromo public support and the commendable hard work of those who actively participated in the realization of the common dream are among the main causes to the success story.
The initiatives taken by concerned and committed individuals to establish “independent” outlets and the fiercely powerful Oromo public engagements in utilizing open international communication forums like face book, twitters, and web-pages, has escalated interactions among the Oromo to world class status. We are proud of the achievements and take it as a an encouraging proof that the Oromo in diaspora can achieve the unthinkable if they set their minds and resources to a goal. however, we are forced to air our grievance pertaining to a disturbing recent episode we encountered. A group of independent Oromos inspired by current circumstances got together and declared A PROPOSAL ON THE CONSOLIDATION OF OROMO SUPPORT and distributed it to Oromo public media outlets for publication. We innocently assumed that these outlets are free forums for honest exchanges of ideas.
Ayyaantuu.org posted the Proposal for few hours and took it off their web-site without explanations to the readers or to those behind the Proposal. We were shocked by such an arrogant behavior and understood it as a gross breach of codes of ethics in journalism. We tried to investigate and what we found out shocked us even more. We found out that the supposedly “free” outlets are not quiet free across the board. We found out that some outlets expect their contributors to meet certain undeclared criteria from their contributors. These hidden criteria may range from assumptions about the factional affiliation of the writer to personal biases against individuals irrespective of the merits of the ideas conveyed. What is even more surprising is that there is a widespread awareness of the practice but no one- including the victims of such infringements on the fundamental individual rights to free speech- cared to raise it as a serous issue that needs to be addressed by the Oromo public.
This is a serious breach of public trust and journalistic ethics that should not be tolerated. It seems we do to each other what we complain of others doing to us. In fact, Ayyaantuu posted it for few hours and the web master seems to have been intimidated by factional group/s to lift it off the web. We are not sure what the group/s that pressured Ayyantuu editors wanted to accomplish by suppressing ideas from reaching the public or if it is a reflection of lack of faith in Oromo public judgement. Gadaa.com didn’t bother to even acknowledge its receipt-let alone publishing it. We wish to express our appreciations to bilisummaa.com for publishing and keeping it posted. Other Oromo outlets like “OROMIA TODAY”,ONA, and private web-pages have also posted it. This behavior is scary in that it signals the uneven equality among equals. If some outlets are private voices of select groups, let it be declared as such and those who do not qualify will refrain from offending the ghosts larking behind the outlets.
As the authors, not the outlets, are accountable for the ideas portrayed on a publication, it is hard to imagine how the editors are intimidated by phone calls from interest group/s and succumb to such a pressure when they can simply refer respondents to us for encouragements, questions, elaborations or insults. Based on past “tradition”, we expect all of the above. Fortunately. all the feedbacks we got so far are only encouragements and constructive suggestions. We take this opportunity to thank all of those who responded for their priceless suggestions and honest appraisals.
What exactly is in the proposal that triggered such hostility??
Our intent in this Proposal is not to demonize any group or any individual but to seek a practical means of establishing an institution that will focus on coordinating Diaspora efforts in support of victims of tyranny under TPLF dictatorship back home. Some information pertaining to past experiences were included primarily for the benefit of the Oromo youth/Qeerroo. who have no first hand experience in pre-TPLF regime political circumstances. We have never consulted with any interest group or individuals to avoid being branded of affiliation with any partisan group. In matters of collective Oromo agenda, every one equally important and every Oromo’s interest is at stake. Thus, we felt it proper for individuals or groups to air their opinions in public than consulting some and excluding others. Thus, we urge every one not to waste time and energy trying to find out which faction is behind this Proposal as there is none. Any one can dig deep and drill the rocks but will find nothing as there is nothing to find.
The core messages in the Proposal are 1) that the leadership of Oromo national movement has shifted to back home, 2) the primary role of the Oromo in diaspora is to support the home-based struggle by all means, 3) that the overwhelming majority of the Oromo nation are tired of bickering among political factions and aspire to concentrate on supporting the struggle back home, 4) that attempts to bind broken pieces of Oromo movement is futile and the viable alternative is for individuals to first liberate themselves from the fetters of divisive interests like regional sentiments, religious affiliations, organizational worship and idolizing mortal individuals and then come together and bond to advance collective liberation under Oromummaa as the only banner.. It takes to first be liberated as individuals to meaningfully engage in any liberation movement.
This is not an attempt to form another political faction to squeeze ourselves in the already crowded Oromo political space but to build a social institution that can coordinate collective emergency responses in times of major crisis and embark on facilitating cordial and vibrant relationships among Oromo diaspora in times of relative peace. the existence of such a transparent and non-partisan institution can save us from panic-stricken scrambles in times of sudden major crises..We have repeatedly gone through this trauma many times so far. If any interest group or individual believes this Proposal is a sinister attempt to disrupt Oromo unity, (which we doubt exists!), let us know and we are ready to mend our thoughts.. Those who agree with the Proposal can pool their talents and other resources together and unite to counter the forces of tyranny. We believe this Proposal is not a revelation by the few but an embodiment of the aspiration of millions of Oromos around the globe. The implied message in the Proposal is: let bickering among factions flourish until it exhausts itself and people wake up from this madness and give chance to the truth to prevail. In the mean time, lets build our institutional capacity to live up to the complex challenges we face to-day and the worse storm to come. The steps forward are to present the Proposal to Oromo Community Associations and other institutions for scrutiny, contact us with your opinions, determine if you can take part in this noble endeavor and in what capacity, and help the group materially and in ideas to conduct a successful and fruitful conference.. All it takes to implement is dedication and resilience.
In conclusion, we would like to request Oromo media outlets to shade off partisanship and serve your nation as neutral forum for free dialogue. The interpretations can be left to the public to judge. secondly, we ask Ayyaantuu to apologize both to the public and the group and re-post the proposal for public judgment. Third, we respectfully urge the public to deliberate on this all-inclusive Proposal and debate on its merits. We don’t expext everybody to agree with us but we are sure there are more than enough individuals to bond and make a difference.
We have attached the Proposal for the benefit of those who didn’t get a chance to read.