Revisiting Oromian Students’ Resistance against Tyranny: 2006 - 2010
By Daandii Qajeelaa November 07/2010
Last year this time, on 11/12/2009, I have compiled a chronology of the Oromian popular students’ uprising, known as Fincila Diddaa Gabrummaa (FDG), meaning “Revolt Against Subjugation”, that suddenly broke out on November 09, 2005 following the failed 2005 Ethiopian election, and engulfed the entire Oromia, under the title “Remembering the 2005 Peaceful Revolt Against Subjugation in Oromia”. In this follow-up report I will summarize the continued resistance of Oromian students from 2006-2010 and their brutal killings, disappearances, arrests, torture, school dismissals by the Ethiopian regime. The report is collected from various sources mainly Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, Oromia Support Group (OSG), Human Rights League of the Horn of Africa (HRLHA), Voice of America (VOA) Afan Oromo Service, US State Department Report on Human Rights, among others.
February 2006, Gonder and Bahir Dar Universities: Conflict Broke out Between Oromo Students and Amhara Students
EPRDF cadres instigated conflict among students in Gonder and Bahir Dar Universities. Hundreds of Oromo students who spoke Afaan Oromo in those cities were beaten by police who pretended to have sympathised with the Amhara students. Many have been arrested and tortured. (International Oromo Youth Association (IOYA) report, November 10, 2006).
June 2006, Mekele, Tigrai: 44 Oromo Students of Mekele University were Denied Certificate After Graduation.
In April, 2006, a Tigrian student who was attending Adama University committed suicide. However, Tigrian residents of Mekele were told that he was murdered by Oromo students of the university. The unfounded rumour was soon spread to Tigrai, and the Tigrians marched to Mekele University demanding the expulsion of all Oromo students from the university as revenge. Oromo students were not immediately expelled from the university, however, the “revenge” demand was fulfilled when in June 2006, 44 Oromo students were denied their Certificate of Graduation after successful completion of their four-year degree programs. Some of these students have disappeared while others were unjustly imprisoned (IOYA report, November, 2006).
August 2006, Haromaya University, E. Hararge: At Least 42 detained and then dismissed
In August 2006, following clashes between Oromo and other students caused by a student wearing a t-shirt carrying a derogatory anti-Oromo slogan, security forces attacked Oromo students at Haromaya University, E. Hararge. Only Oromo students were held for two months and dismissed from the university (OSG Report, No. 43). At least 42 were detained and then dismissed, including:
1. Amina Shibiru, chemistry
2. Demise Neguse, administration
3. Eliyas Adam, agro-economics
4. Ermias Tesfaye Dhaba, economics
5. Hamid Milkessa, physics
6. Ibraham Darge, geography
7. Kamil Ahmed, animal science
8. Kedir Adam, soil engineering
9. Kibron Teka, education
10. Mustafa Mamiru, agro-economics
11. Tadasa Mangasha, soil engineering
12. Wakjira Imiru, ALO
August 2006, Adama University: Clash Between Students Spread to Adama University and more Oromo Students Dismissed
Oromo and other students of Adama University clashed based on their ethnic affiliation because a government cadre acting as a student wore a t-shirt that bears a derogatory word against the Oromo people in an orchestrated move to incite ethnic tensions. The clash also spread to Jimma University. In this clash, which was clearly instigated to pit Oromo students against Amhara students, at least 10 lives were lost, at least 30 students from Adama, and 23 from Jimma University were expelled (IOYA report, November 2006). According to OSG report No. 43, the following students of Adama University were among those detained and/or dismissed:
1. Alemayo Mulugeta (Dismissed and detained)
2. Dasta Neguse (Dismissed and detained)
3. Gamachu Fayissa, banking (Dismissed and detained)
4. Gamachu Imiru, mathematics (Dismissed and detained)
5. Girma Dereje (Dismissed and detained)
6. Jabessa Dhinsa (Dismissed and detained)
7. Kasahun Eliyas, accounting (Dismissed and detained)
8. Oljira Dheressa (Dismissed and detained)
9. Tolosa Nagara, accounting (Dismissed and detained)
10. Wakjira Magarsa (Dismissed and detained)
11. Abu Kedir, accounting (Dismissed)
12. Bontu Hailu, construction (Dismissed)
13. Daniel Biratu, accounting (Dismissed)
14. Gamachu Qitessa, marketing (Dismissed)
15. Girum Walde, marketing (Dismissed)
16. Hana Chamada, computer science (Dismissed)
17. Malaku, electrical engineering (Dismissed)
18. Mamo Fogala, management (Dismissed)
19. Mohammed Kedir, marketing (Dismissed)
20. Nurzadin Kedir, management (Dismissed)
21. Tariku Olana, surveying (Dismissed)
22. Tasara Boche, accounting (Dismissed)
23. Wakjira Magarsa, computer science (Dismissed)
September 17, 2006, Ginchi, W. Shoa: Two Students Abducted and Disappeared
Students Bakala Dalasa and Habirru Birru were taken at night from their residence in Ginchi, W. Showa, around the 7:00 PM local time, and have been disappeared (OSG report No. 43)
December 2006, Harar, Eastern Hararge: At Least 6 Students Detained
The following Secondary School students were detained in September 2006 in and around Harar, E. Hararge. Known to be held in Harar were Murad Ahmed and Ramadan Abdella, whereas Ramadan Galile, Abdi Amma, Kadir Rabsa and Dhakaba Bakar were taken to an unknown location (OSG report No. 43).
November 7, 2006, Mekele, Tigrai: A 3rd Year Student Strangled to Death
Shibiru Demisse Bati, a 24 year-old Oromo third-year history student was stra angled to death at Mekele University in Tigray. Shibiru, from Siba Yesus Peasant Association, Homa, near Gimbi, Wallega, was attacked on November 4, 2006, after being dragged out of his room when the campus electricity was turned off at the university. Tensions had been growing between security forces and Oromo students in Tigray since graduation certificates were denied to those students who had been vocal about the government’s disregard of human rights in Oromia Region (Ethio-Tribune, November 7, 2006, and Oromo Menschenrechts- und Hilfsorganisation (OMRHO), December 2006,).
November 30, 2006, Finfinnee (Addis Ababa): A Graduate of Mekele University Tortured
The Human Rights League of the Horn of Africa (HRLHA) reported the detention, torture and disappearance of law graduate Dirirsa Biqila in their 4th Press Release, November 2007, and Annual Report in June 2008.
Dirirsa was one of 14 graduates at Mekele university, Tigray Region, who were denied their degrees and diplomas upon graduation for allegedly organising an ‘OLF-affiliated anti-government movement’ at the university. Although born in West Wallega, the 25 year-old went to Addis Ababa after graduating in July 2006. On November 30, 2006, he was taken by plain-clothed security men at 2.00 p.m. from the Megenanya area of Addis Ababa, blind-folded and handcuffed, to an underground prison where he was beaten and tortured so severely that he lost consciousness. After two days, he was taken to the Air Force base at Bishoftu (Debre Zeit) where he was subjected to further torture. After another 2-3 days he was returned to Addis Ababa and held briefly in the Lafto sub-city police station before being dumped very early on the morning of December 5, 2006 in the Walo Safar area of the capital. His family were unable to trace him after his later disappearance at the end of December and believe that he has been secretly detained (OSG report No. 43).
January 1, 2007, Dembi Dollo, W. Wollega: Two Students Killed
One Oromo student, and perhaps two, died as a direct result of police beatings and that other students were severely injured and hospitalized in Dembi Dollo. Between 30 and 50 have been detained and remain detained without charge in the central Dembi Dollo jail and in two district police stations (Human Rights Watch, February 20, 2007 )
January 4, 2007, Ghmbi Wollega: Two Brothers Murdered
Two cousins, Gemechu Benesa Bula and Lelisa Waqgari Bula, were killed by militia members and police officers. On the evening of January 4, police and militia members were on patrol near Guyi High School when they came upon several students walking together.
Unlike previous incidents where security force patrols have been used to break up student demonstrations there was no demonstration but several students fled as the police and militia members approached. The patrol shot at the fleeing students, severely wounding Gemechu. Lelsa returned and covered the fallen Gemechu with his body. The patrol ordered Lelsa to leave. When he refused, he, too, was shot. Both cousins died shortly after (Human Rights Watch, February 20, 2007)
January 18, 2007, Ghmbi, W. Wollega: Two Students Died Due to Severe Beating
In its appeal Letter to Ethiopian Ministers on Human Rights Violations Against Students, February 20, 2007, Human Rights Watch stated “as students were gathering at school to march to the zonal administration headquarters to present a petition to the zonal administrators concerning the arrests and beatings, a squad of police broke into the school and beat yet more students and arrested others. According to reports from credible sources, dozens of students and some adults were injured in these two incidents. Eight students were hospitalized. A tenth-grade student was beaten so severely that he died a few days later. Human Rights Watch received an unconfirmed report that a second student also died as a result of the beatings” (emphasis mine).
January 18, 2007, Dembi Dollo, W. Wollega: At Least 27 Detained and Tortured
OSG report No. 43 stated that the following students have been detained without charge and beaten in Dembi Dollo jail :
1. Mitiku Abdisa;
2. Mezgebu Bekele;
3. Dawit Warati;
4. Binyamin Zerihun;
5. Amana Ayale;
6. Amanuel Magarsa;
7. Cali Kebede;
8. Worku Tamrat;
9. Amanuel Degefu;
10. Gamachu Ligaba;
11. Waqgarri Habte;
12. Bacha Yadesa;
13. Ashenafi Degefa;
14. Ishetu Getaneh;
15. Amanuel Aklilu;
16. Kedir Suleiman
17. Wakshira Jabessa;
18. Geremew Mitiku;
19. Abraham Hora Gusa.
Two of these, Waqgarri Habte and Amanuel Magarsa, are reported to have been tortured. In addition, at least eight female students are being held without charge and access to courts:
20. Beti Gurmessa,
21. Annane Tamiru;
22. Lalise Badhasa;
23. Galane Girma
24. Dinknesh Tekle Barkessa;
25. Tigist Tamiru Tola;
26. Abaynesh Lelisa;
27. Naima Zenyu Gobbu.
January 2007, Ganalle, Bale: At Least 11 Students Detained
OSG report No. 43 stated that the following students from Bale, most of whom were reportedly associated with Ganelle Secondary School, were deatined.
1. Adan Mohammed
2. Abdulahi Anajo
3. Ahmed Aliyi
4. Ahmed Yaqub
5. Aliyi Mohammed
6. Hamza Mohammed
7. Ibrahim Mohammed
8. Jamal Hussein
9. Kalil Sheik Hassan
10. Mohammed Abdulahi
11. Tajudin Badru
February 21, 2007, Gaara Suufi, Hararge: Ayisha Ali, 14, Murdered and Here Body was Eaten by Hyenas.
A 14 year-old girl, Ayisha Aliyi, was taken by security forces at night in February, wearing only her nightgown. Local police later denied knowledge of her whereabouts but government officials announced that dissidents would be killed on nearby Mount Sufi.
When the news that some 20 people have been killed and thrown to a mountainous area known as Gaara Sufi, Ayisha’s mother, along with local people, went to the jungle and found some of Ayisha’s hair, clothes and body parts among the remains of 19 people who had been taken to Mt Sufi and shot. Their bodies had been left for consumption by hyenas, leaving few remains for grieving relatives to bury. Even then, mourners were interrogated and funerals interrupted by security forces challenging relatives who had collected remains from Mt Sufi ‘without authorisation’ (OSG report No. 43, VOA Afan Oromo, and OLF, Feb. 2007).
The remains of the following were among those killed on Mt Sufi. They were residents of Mi’esso unless otherwise stated:
1. Adam Abdukarim, 32
2. Adam Amme Yaasuuf, 35
3. Abdella Mohammed Biru, 25, Fayo
4. Adinaan Mohammed, 22, Galamso, Habro
5. Ahmed Abdurahman, 37, Asaboti
6. Ahmed Abrahim, (Grade 9)
7. Ahmed Abrahim (Boru), 30
8. Ahmed Aliyi, 14, Doba (Grade 8 school boy)
9. Ahmed Eliyas
10. Ahmed Korea, Doba
11. Ahmed Mohammed, 36, Guba Qoricha, Guba
12. Ahmed Mohammed Kurree, 70
13. Ahmed Shankoor, 18, Tullo (Grade 10)
14. Miss Ayisha Aliyi, 14
15. Ibrahim Badhaso, Habro
16. Mohammed Aliyi Ture, 30, Ciro
17. Mohammed Eliyas Guto, 28
18. Mohammed Sani, Doba
19. Yaasuuf Ibro, 34, Asaboti
April 7, 2007, Madda Walabu, Bale: Fight on Which Language to Use
According to the weekly, Enbilta, classes were suspended at Mada Walabu university in Robe, Bale, after clashes between students over which language was used in a discussion about catering at the cafeteria. The fighting continued until next day and federal police continued guarding the campus for three days.
April 23, 2007, Demonstration at Addis Ababa Univesity (AAU): Several injured, imprisoned
The International Oromo Youth Association (IOYA) reported that Oromo students at Finfinnee (Addis Ababa) University demonstrated at the end of April 2007 following the death from unknown causes of an Oromo third-year pharmacy student. Mohammed Abdurahman was found dead on 23 April, 2007. Against Oromo cultural norms and without permission from the student’s parents, internal organs, including his eyes, were removed and the body was severely disfigured. The outrage was intensified by the university President, Dr Endrias Eshete, who made derogatory comments to the young man’s father and student representatives, when they complained. Government special riot police, the ‘Agazi’, dispersed the rally on the campus, using force, injuring and imprisoning an unknown number of students (Also reported by OSG report No. 43 and VOA Afan Oromo service).
April 29, 2007, Nekemte, E. Wollega: Police Shot and Killed a 17 Year Old Student
The Ethiopian Human Rights Council (EHRCO) reported in their 29th Regular Report, January 2008, the shooting to death by a police officer of Zerihun Abate, aged 17, in Nekemte, around midnight on 29 April 2007.
September 4, 2007: A Student in Exile and a Woman Killed by Death Squad, Moyale, Kenya
The OLF reported the murder of Garomsa Abdisa, a Kenyan Oromo, in the border town of Moyale on September 4, 2007. He and an Oromo woman were shot dead out in the open, in front of the Kenyan government office by Ethiopian government soldiers, who then returned to the Ethiopian side of the border (also OSG report No. 43).
November 2, 2007, Nairobi, Kenya: Two Former University Students in Exile and a Man Killed
Two former students of Addis Ababa university living in exile were killed at their apartment in the Eastleigh area of Nairobi on Friday November 2, 2007. Gunmen, wearing dark sweaters, masks and goggles, shot dead the two students, 23 year-old Indalkachew Teshome Asefa, his Nairobi neighbour, Hadiya student Mallas Habib and a Kenyan security guard, Geoffrey. Two of Indalkachew’s brothers, 22 year-old Indeshaw and 17 year-old Girma, both also students, were injured. In addition, a neighbour, 60 year-old Dadi Areda, was shot in the face for raising the alarm and lost one eye as a result. The police, who arrived shortly after the incident, discounted robbery as a motive for the attack, as nothing was missing (OSG report No. 43, VOA Afan Oromo service).
January 1, 2008, Arba Minchi University, SPNNR: Over 200 Oromo Students Were Arrested For Celebrating New Gregorian Year
On 1 January, over 200 students at Arba Minch university were arrested and some were injured by live ammunition for celebrating the western New Year, on the pretext that this was ‘promoting a subversive OLF agenda’ (OSG report, No. 44). It is known that OLF members and supporters all over the world also celebrate January 1 every year as “the day of OLA (Oromo Liberation Army)”, and therefore, any Gregorian New Year celebration by Oromos is interpreted by the regime as support for OLF.
January 13, 2008, Jimma University: Clashes Occurred between Oromo Students and Tigrai Students, at least 17 injured, dozens arrested,
According to the January13 edition of The Reporter, an Amharic bi-weekly, 17 Jimma university students had been injured in clashes between students two days previously, when stones and iron objects were thrown. The conflict was followed by the arrest of 17 students “all of one ethnic group” which is a coded phrase to mean “all are Oromos” used by the editor of the Reporter (a Tigrean), which is largely favored by the current Ethiopian regime.
January 18, 2008, Jimma: At Least 12 Students Dismissed for Wearing T-shirts with Oromian Map and Oromo Heroes on them
12 Oromo students were given complete dismissals at Jimma University and coerced out of campus by heavily armed federal police. Because the students wore T-shirts with the map of Oromia and Oromo heroes, including sports heroes, printed on them, the universities board decided to dismiss them. Then, the students were accused of being sympathizers of the Oromo Liberation Front in an attempt to cover the discriminatory dismissal (OSG report, No. 44).
March 8, 2009, Bahir Dar University: At Least 80 Oromo students Arrested After Protest
OLF reported that 80 Oromo students who are attending Bahir Dar University have been arrested following a protest by Oromo students against ethnic slurs by supporters of the Ethioian regime. The report said that the Woyanne regime’s Federal Police are currently hunting down more Oromo students in Bahir Dar, the capital city of the Amhara killil (region).
“It has to be noted that almost all of the Oromo students who are now assigned to the Amhara regional state for university education were educated in Afan Oromo and English alone, and hence do not speak Amharic at all, and even those who can barely speak Amharic can easily be identified and are seen as aliens in the Bahir Dar town and in the entire Amhara regional state, according to the OLF News. Consequently, the students have nowhere to escape and are being brutalized by the regime’s security forces”, the report by OLF stated.
While the exact number of those arrested could not be verified, VOA Afan Oromo service interviewed some Oromo students and corroborated the protest and the arrest of several Oromo students by the regimes forces.
March 23, 2009, Gondar University: Oromo Student Dismissed and then Abducted from the University immediately
OLF News stated that a second year student of geography whose name is Tasew Tabor Goobaa was expelled from the Gondar University cadres without any charges or any wrongdoing other than falsely being accused of having links with the OLF. “Prior to his dismissal and his final abduction, student Tasew was repeatedly harassed and intimidated by forces of the regime”, states OLF’s report.
June 5, 2009:Over 3000 Oromo Students of Hawasa University Staged a Peaceful Protest
According to OLF, a demonstration which attracted 3000 students was staged in the university campus to “oppose the divide-and-rule policy the TPLF regime and to ask the government stop dividing the Oromo people along clan, regional, and religious lines and to ask stop orchestrating conflict not only between Oromos and several other national groups but also between Oromos and Oromos”. Among the slogans the students were chanting were:
· Stop Harassing the Oromo people,
· Respect the Dignity of the Oromo people,
· Self-determination of the Oromo people should be realized,
· Stop divide-and-rule policy, and others.
Prior to the demonstration OLF News had reported on May 20, 2009, May 29, 2009, and May 31, 2009 that “the TPLF regime has concocted conflicts between Oromo and other national groups such as Afar, Argobba, and Sidama in which about 200 people lost their lives and several others injured and property destroyed”.
July 23, 2009, Finfinnee (Addis Ababa): A 5th Year Law Student Abducted
In its Press Release 18, HRLHA reported that, Taye Danda’a Arado, 5th year law student at Addis Ababa University, and Bayisa Dhaba Lata, employee of Dukam Municipality (Southern suburb of Addis Ababa), Muse Ali, government employee were detained. Taye was an outstanding student who was due to graduate three days after his arrest and had been offered a teaching post at the university. He had been detained with Macha-Tulama Association members in early 2004 and had remained in detention for nearly three years, until released in late 2006. He had been a key figure in the university Oromo language society (the Afaan Oromo Club), was an active member of the Union of Oromo Students at the university and had been involved with the graduation ceremony and the Oromo Students Graduation Bulletin, which was not allowed to be published. He was taken from in front of the main university campus by plain-clothed security officers and held incommunicado with Bayisa and Muse at Maikelawi CID. Ethiomedia reported on 6 October that Taye had been tortured and that his place of detention was no longer known
January 15, 2010, Qarsa, Jimma: A Student was Shot Dead
A 7th Grade school student, Caalaa, was shot dead by security forces in Qarsaa, Jimma zone, and two others, Tofiq and Abdujabbar Aliyi, were shot and wounded before being taken away by security forces (OMRHO report, January 2010).
January 2010, Awasa, SNNPR: Three University Students Abducted and Disappeared
The January OMRHO report, HRLHA (Urgent Action No. 8, January) and Advocacy for Ethiopia (13 January) recorded the detention of three university students in Awassa, (Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples Region - SNNPR) on 5 and 6 January. Nagga Gezaw (2nd year civil engineering), Ms Jatani Wario (2nd year co-operative) and Dhaba Girre (3rd year management) were taken from the campus by security forces to an unknown destination and were later reported to be held in Maikelawi Central Investigation Department (CID) in Addis Ababa. They had been involved in protests about the contamination of local rivers and streams by gold mining activity at Lega Denbi, Gujji/Borana zone of Oromia Region. HRLHA reported that other students had probably been detained in addition to the three named.
February 25, 2010, Gedo, W. Shoa: Police Killed a 19, Year Old at Demonstration
US State Department 2009 Human Rights Report, March 12, 2010, stated:
“…students at Gedo Secondary School (West Shoa Zone, Oromiya region) found a flier containing hateful remarks about Oromos. When the school principal delayed in investigating the case, Oromo students refused to attend classes and demonstrated inside the school compound. The principal called local police, who ordered students to disperse. When they refused, police shot and killed Wendimu Damena, a 19-year-old student. Another student, 20-year-old Belay Motuma, was shot in the chest and remained hospitalized at year's end. Two students, Berecha Folesa and Tamari Melaku Weyesa, were arrested during the demonstration and were released on bail on March 9. On March 17, six school administration employees and one agricultural bureau employee, all of whom were opposition Oromo People's Congress (OPC) candidates in the 2008 local elections, were arrested and charged with inciting the violence. The case remained pending at year's end”.
May 1, 2010, Finfinnee(Addis Ababa) University: At Least 33 Oromo Students Jailed
According to VOA Afan Oromo Service, who interviewed some Oromo students who witnessed the condition, the assault on the Oromo University students was provoked and started by the TPLF security agents enrolled into the University as students. When the Oromo students were defending themselves from the attack
of the TPLF agents, the TPLF Agazi soldiers and security forces entered the University campus as a “reinforcement force”. After they entered the University campus, the Agazi soldiers and the security forces singled out and brutally and inhumanely attacked the Oromo students. Due to the assault, tens of Oromo
students have been injured; some have suffered life threatening injuries, the witnesses stated to VOA reporter. Hundreds of Oromo students
were kidnapped and taken away by the security forces and their where about is not known. The same week a press release by OLF listed the names of 33 students from among the jailed as follows.
- Sanyii Nagaash, Political science, third year
- Amanu’el Teklu, Language, 4th
- Efrem Fikadu, Afan Oromo, 4th
- Tomas Amante, Psychology 4th
- Ayeris Dhalasaa, Afan Oromoo 4th
- Adunya Kaba, History 4th
- Tamiru Adunya, Afan Oromoo 4th’
- Tamire Bogale, History 4th
- Gololchaa Baldi, Psychology 4th
- Dabalu Geography, 3rd (Where about unknown)
- Kadir Faraja, Afan Oromo 4th
- Gudina Fixumaa, Psychology 4th
The following were wounded and hospitalized and taken out of hospital and thrown into Prison
- Ibsa Yonas, Archeology 2nd
- Amanuel Teklu, Language 2nd
- Gurmessa, Afan Oromo 4th
- Ifa Tasfaye, Afan Oromo 2nd (bullet wounded on the neck)
- Bekuma Berhane Oromo Language 2nd
- Taka History 4th
- Marge Guta, Afan Oromo 2nd
- Walali Wagga, Afan Oromo 2nd
- Yeshareg Sisay
- Tinur Waqtola Oromo Language 2nd
- Shukare Raggasa Language 2nd
- Rahel Hirana Oromo Language 2nd
- Tigist Ibsaa Oromo Language 2nd
- Shitaye Tasfa Language 2nd
- Hawwii Oromoo Language 3rd (lost teeth)
The above list is just a tiny fraction of what has been reported about the Oromian students’ resistance against the current regime over the time period 2006 – 2010. Every effort has been made to corroborate the accuracy of this report. Tons of reports by Oromo groups, organizations and fronts opposing and fighting the current regime, mainly those reports made OLF, has been largely excluded from this report, unless they have been verified by other independent sources, to avoid the impression that the report may be partisan.It is also to be noted that, due to lack of freedom of press in Ethiopia, only a small fraction of what has actually happened in Oromia and in Ethiopia at large is reported by any media. Last but not least, this report is only about issues that are directly related to Oromo students.