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Ethiopian Musicians Charged With Terrorism for ‘Inciting’ Song Lyrics | Global Voice


by Endalkachew Chala

Seven producers and performers of a popular YouTube music video were charged in Ethiopia in late June with terrorism for producing ‘inciting’ audio-visual materials and ‘uploading them on YouTube’.

Endalkachew Chala

The group members were arrested in December 2016 and were held in detention without charges until last month.

Among those facing charges is Seenaa Solomon, a young female singer who critics say is a rising music talent to watch. The other detainees include the well-known songwriter, singer and music entrepreneur Elias Kiflu, two vocalists Gemechis Abera and Oliyad Bekele, and three dancers, Ifa Gemechu, Tamiru Keneni and Moebol Misganu.

This marked the second arrest for dancer Moebol Misganu, who in 2014 was arrested in connection with the students protest in Ethiopia’s largest region, Oromia. He was released in 2016.

Since December 2016, Seenaa and her colleagues have been held in Maekelawi— a prison notorious for its torture practices, recounted by past prisoners. Shortly after their arrest, online activist and diaspora satellite television director Jawar Mohamed wrote:

The regime has intensified its war on Oromo artists. Almost all singers are either in jail, forced to flee or had gone underground. Studios have been closed and their properties confiscated. Seena Solomon and Elias Kiflu, the duo known for their powerfully dramatized resistance songs are the latest victims.

The contentious political environment in which these arrests have occurred has grown out of the Ethiopian government’s plan to expand Addis Ababa, the country’s capital. In 2014, the ruling EPRDF party announced plans to expand the capital into adjacent farm lands of Oromia, Ethiopia’s largest region that is primarily home to the country’s largest ethnic group, the Oromo.

When the plan led to wide-scale protests and a violent government crackdown, Afan Oromo (the region’s language) musicians began to rise as a visible — and audible — source of inspiration for the opposition movement. Seenaa Solomon’s group produced music videos in Afan Oromo during student protests that rocked the country from 2014-2016, creating something akin to a soundtrack for the movement.

In their coverage of the group members’ arrests, state-run Fana Broadcasting Corporation reported that Seenaa and her colleagues were producing music videos, poems and interviews with government critics in collaboration with a diaspora political organization based in Australia.

According to their charge sheet, their audiovisual materials were “inciting” and “complimentary” of the student protesters and others who demonstrated between 2014 and 2016.

They are not the first musicians to face such repression. In January 2016, Hawi Tezera, another Oromo singer who comforted and inspired protesters through her songs, was imprisoned. In February 2017, Teferi Mekonen, an Oromo singer who asserted Oromo cultural identity and challenge the legitimacy of Ethiopia’s ruling party in his songs, was arrested. Hawi was later released, but Teferi’s fate remains unknown.

As the visibility of political singers has risen, Ethiopian authorities have intensified their crack down on musicians whom they perceive sympathize with opposition. But this has not necessarily made the musicians less visible or less popular. Resistance music continues to flourish on YouTube. Despite the fact that its performers are in jail, the YouTube channel for Seenaa Solomon’s group maintains an impressive tally of more than 3,525,996 views.


Source: Global Voice


  1. GETACHEW REDA (Editor Ethio Semay)

    Unless the writer of the report ‘Endalkachew Challa’ shown on photo inside the report is one of the deluded and manipulated cessions puppet, I like to inform him that the arrestee and the arresters are both anti Ethiopia elements, and they have no mission other than dismemberment of Ethiopia. The reporter need to educated himself, that, there is no land owned or home belongs ‘only’ to the so called Oromo. In fact there is no territory called Oromia. There is illegitimate and apartheid designed territory (since 1991)controlled by the so called ‘Oromo’ called Oromia.

    No question my country Ethiopia is inside the orbit of fascists. There is a new phenomenon, new breed of fascism in Ethiopia growing in tremendous speed, It is obvious, in the last 26 years in Ethiopia, millions of ethnic youth are recruited/manipulated in to the fascist youth organizations. They are everywhere in Ethiopia and in the Diaspora (Oromo, Tigre and even some ‘Amhara youth in the Diaspora’) who are no question the product of TPLF/OLF propaganda works. in the last 26 years.
    This phenomenon is surely what my hero the renowned Ethiopian historian the late Dr.Aleme Eshete called it from “Fascism to Fascism’. He told us “The Nazis of Austro Hungary had already in the 1930’s targeted Ethiopia as a threat against white supremacy, and white colonialism in Africa, in much the same way as the Bush administration talks about Iraq’s “weapons of mass destruction” and threat to “Western Civilization.” In the case of Ethiopia, the classic work on the subject, which we have repeatedly introduced to the Ethiopian public, myself and the Ethiopian patriotic Diaspora in Germany, was, of course, the book by the Austrian Nazi, Baron Roman Prochazka’s “Abyssinia the Powder Barrel” (Vienna 1935), translated in all the major Western languages (including American English, as the following text shows) before the Italian invasion in 1936. Baron Roman Prochazka was posted for two years as Austrian Consul in Addis Ababa until his expulsion in February 1934, as we say now for activities not compatible with his job of a diplomat. The Italian translation of Prochazka’s book entitled ABISSINIA PERICOLO NERO meaning “Abyssinia the Black Threat or Danger” was published in 1935, which is a year before the Fascist invasion .Starting from the first page, Prochazka alerts his white public by stating that since four years that Emperor Haile Selassie’s Ethiopia, in “close co-operation with Japan,” was engaged “on a life and death struggle with the white race, the consequences of which are incalculable. The targets are the colonial powers in Africa without exception. It is hardly possible to imagine a more unhappy situation of a white man than to have to live under the oppression of an Abyssinian grandee. The prevalence of this contemptuous invective is characteristic of the mentality and attitude of the natives who imagine themselves to be infinitely superior to the white race.”
    Strikingly, the solution proposed by Prochazka is, and that is where he brings us to the subject under discussion, is the tribalization of Ethiopian politics for the purpose of divide and destroy. Prochazka was the first ever to have spoken of “self determination “as the most handy instrument for the dismantlement of the Ethiopian State. Here in brief are the highlights of Prochazka’s strategy:
    “The numerous peoples and tribes who inhabit the territory of the Ethiopian state, and which differ in race, language, culture and religion from the ruling minority of the Abyssinians proper, would long ago have thrown off the Abyssinian yoke if they had been given the right of self-determination. Instead, they are being forcibly kept cut off from European influences and from the advantages that progressive colonization could confer upon the country. The final aim of (Abyssinian) policy of antagonism to the white race, in co-operation with Japan, is nothing less than to act as the champions of all the colored peoples of Africa… It is incumbent on the legations of the civilized nations in Abyssinia to warn their governments to take a definite stand before the Abyssinians attack and destroy western culture and civilization in its entirety. There is no such thing as a united Abyssinian people. The greater part of the non-Christian tribes in Abyssinia has no more burning desire than to be freed from the tyranny of the Amharas… If they would vote freely they would certainly prefer a European protectorate to universally hated extortionists and slave drivers. This country is cracking at all its joints and has only been kept together up to the present by methods of ruthless coercion.”With all the talk of the “right of self determination” in the 1930’s, would you say the CIA’s Ethiopia policy of the right of self-determination and nations and nationalities has not been copied word for word from the Nazi Baron Roman Prochazka, for the tribal dismemberment of Ethiopia?……….”

    Indeed, the so called said ‘Oromia owned territory’ or the name ‘Oromo’ reported by this young reporter is a new manufactured name of Germans and the Tigrayan People Liberation Front elites (TPLF) and the Oromo Liberation Front elites (OLF) designed name and territory given to the innocent population coined in the agenda of dismemberment of Ethiopia. So we advice the reporter, unless his is the secessionist reporter (which I expected based on its shallow report) to do his homework than to be gravitated himself by the fascistic political designers propaganda.
    Thanks Getachew Reda (Editor Ethio Semay)

    A person, who has truth on his side won’t, explode like you! But look at yourself: you deny even the existence of people that are 35 Million strong! Who is delusional then ?? You state “Oromo and Oromia are new manufactured name(s)”. What about Ethiopia? Sudan? kenya? USA? Did all these exist before the world was created? Yes, oromos and Oromia may not exist in your dream world. But that is your own business. Wake up! The real world is different. Oromos and Oromia exist in this physical world. so, what is in your head does not bother us. But don’t litter the cyber space!

  3. I say to Getachew Reda FOOL EDITOR, don’t you believe in freedom of intellect. Once DEDEBIT always DEDEBIT !!!

  4. Part -2-

    From GETACHEW REDA (Editor Ethio Semay)

    To anyone who calls himself/herself Oromo/Oromia. …
    I like to ask you simple question which your leaders failed to answer it many times. When was the name Oromo/Oromia started to the surface? just easy simple question.

    if you want me to call you Oromo/Oromia any fabricated name, I will call you; but, do not fool anyone and yourself that the name Gala should replace the name ‘Oromo’ believing Ggala is a derogatory name that your German Protestant preacher named you as Ormo to be legitimate name to replace Gala.

    you can fool yourself- but do not interfere to other countess’s Galas’ who called themselves in their legitimate and native name Gala to change it to Oromo, How foolish!/ Grow up!!

    Here is what your OLF gangs who are brainwashing you appeal to Kenya Gala living beyond their border.


    We, the Oromo teachers from Oromo refugee community in Kenya, are writing to you to bring into your attention the negative impact of the usage of derogative and abusive word Galla to identify the Oromo in the text books of social studies used in primary and secondary education in Kenya. It is wrong terminology usage against Oromo identity which is unjustifiable historically to educate the nation.

    In fact the people identify themselves as Oromo and their language as Afan Oromo, which is the correct terminology usage.’

    Wont this foolishness and self-creation of inferiority complex make people laugh?

    Pleas, Grwo up? will you? d not fool this innocent youth in the name of Alah in your “Islamization of fascistic Oromia’ and in the name of Liberation, Freedom all that nonsense. Inferiority complex is a self made disease hard to heal. Look how far “inferiority complex” is traveling … all the way to Kenya! and Somalia!
    Pleas,come to light and remove yourself from such decadent and nonsense delusion of OLF politics! Free yourself from those OLF gangsters’ trap that is playing with your mind. I am sure, it will take time to heal you- since cultism is a serious mental disease, but we try to heal you. Please take your time and read different minds.

    GETACHEW REDA (Editor Ethio Semay)

  5. “Ijoolee wajjin yoo taphatan harka udaanitiin nama qabdi” goes an Oromo proverb. In short, no need to argue with a person, who is divorced from reality. GETACHEW REDA thinks he knows better than /for all/ 40 Million Oromos! For your simple question: I am over 60. I, My parent, my grnad parents, and their parents used to call themselves “OROMO”. Read your Debtera- Abba-Bahrey’s script – It was even used there 500 years ago!
    The world is full of psychotic people! Or is he on drugs????

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