By Mohamed Abdullah, Minneapolis
August 2 2007
(Photo: OromiaTimes collection)
I’m a junior at St. Cloud State University majoring International Relations. I am conducting research on some of the contemporary issues affecting the Oromos in East Africa. One of my goals is to raise awareness about the ongoing atrocities being committed against my people.
The Oromos are the forgotten people in Africa, make up a very large portion of the population in the Horn of Africa. According to the U.S. State Department, in Ethiopia alone Oromo people constitute more than 40 million out of the 77 million inhabitants.
Oromo people call their country Oromia and their language is called Afaan Oromo (Oromo language). Oromia is an evergreen country that covers 600,000 square kilometers close to the size of Texas. Ethiopian authorities have denied their citizens basic human rights by resorting to violence as an attempt to conceal political differences.
Liberty, security, the right to education, freedom of speech and the right to a fair trial are inalienable rights which every human being is entitled to by birth, but these are denied to the Oromos.
Ethiopia, as one of the oldest members of the United Nations, is signatory to many international treaties that grant human rights for all.
Despite the tearless cry on papers, these treaties are seldom implemented. Ethiopia today ranks in the bottom level where economic development is concerned. It is also among the least developed nations and is top on the human rights violators list.
For more than a century, successive Ethiopian regimes used the “divide and conquer” strategy to overrun all the oppressed nations in the south. They divided Oromia into many regions, which created conflicts among Oromos and made them internally disunited.
Continuing the legacy of their forerunners, the current Tigre People’s Liberation Front regime has set up a corrupt political system.
Using their puppets and self-made organizations, such as Oromo Peoples Democratic Organization, they suppressed grassroots indigenous Oromo movements.
According to Human Rights Watch report of 2005, during just the last decade and a half, they imprisoned, killed and/or tortured an estimated 50,000 Oromos.
Oromo students are restricted to finishing only through the 10th grade. After this, there are only a few who make it to college.
During the last few years, an uncounted number of Oromo students were dismissed from their education, killed or they just disappeared, according to the Oromia Support Group, 2004. Government authorities suppressed the student movement by use of excessive force.
Furthermore, the Oromo language, which is the third most widely spoken language in Africa, has only one hour devoted to TV broadcasting in the Oromo language and all independent newspapers and magazines have been banned.
After the highly disputed Ethiopian election in May 2005, the political problems continued to escalate with many still languishing in Ethiopian “gulags.”
Oromos across the globe are joining hands to raise awareness about the systematic ethnic cleansing directed at innocent Oromo civilians and equivocally condemn this unparalleled human rights abuse. They are making a call for all freedom-loving individuals and nations to open their eyes and echo these calls to end this systematic apartheid.
The U.S. administration has been negligent in paying attention to the calls of Oromo Americans and keeping national interest at the heart of its foreign policy.
They have given no regard to the ongoing human rights violation in Ethiopia. This is a gross oversight.
As Americans, we should be aware of how and where our money is being spent. American taxpayers’ money should not be used to ruthlessly kill innocent civilians anywhere.
This is the opinion of Mohamed Abdullah, a Minneapolis resident and junior at St. Cloud State University.
St Cloud Times