by Nagessa Oddo Dube
1. Land Ownership and Cancellation of the Addis Ababa Master plan
The government claims it has canceled the Finfinee (Addis Ababa) master plan. However, there is no guarantee that it would not continue some other time. No action has been taken to show that the government has permanently forgone that plan. The institution is not abolished and it is not legally repealed. The policy of expansion is still there.
The Ethiopian masses want to be the owners of their land. When people oppose land grabs, they are claiming land ownership. As Birhanemeskel stated in his post, “The land ownership and use laws should be repealed in a way that recognizes the private and communal land ownership tradition of the Oromo common law.” He continues, “As we speak, there are more than 15 proclamations that are in place to evict and expropriate the Oromo of their land. These laws should be repealed. There are more than a dozen federal government institutions including the so-called ‘Industrial Park Development Corporation,’ Ministries of Agriculture, Investment, Trade, Federal Affairs, Urban Development, and ‘Federal Land Banks’ that are evicting and expropriating the lands of the Oromo farmers at will.”
The Ethiopian government must not only reinstate the evicted Oromo farmers’ lands but also repeal these laws and abolish these institutions of land grab permanently.
2. Quest for the Respect for Human Rights, Freedom of Expression and Democracy
“Stop the killing!” “Respect our rights for peaceful demonstration!” “Respect our right to freedom of speech!” were some of the mottos in the ongoing protests. However, more killings have been carried out, journalists continue to be arrested and freedom of expression is banned under the state of emergency.
3. Free All Political Prisoners
Instead of releasing those who are in detention, more opposition leaders have been arrested, including the OFC chairman, Dr. Merera Gudina. While there were some prisoners who were released, nowhere near all political prisoners are free. Those who were detained in different military camps in concentration centers were released recently. In December 2016, about 11,000 prisoners were released. In February 2017, 12,500 more were released. However, many more have been detained and taken to prison. Journalists and opposition leaders are still behind bars. In particular, the arrest of Dr. Merera Gudina, a leading Oromo opposition political figure, illustrates that this intoxicated regime is taking Ethiopia to a place of no return.
4. Quest for Genuine Federalism and Self-Administration
Nothing has been done to address this quest so far.
The Oromo people are looking for genuine federalism in Ethiopia. Oromo people’s right to self-administration under the system of genuine federalism is one of the key demands of #OromoProtests. “Oromiyaan Kan Oromoo ti” and “Abbaan biyyaa Oromoo dha” are mottos for self-rule and real federalism.
Oromia now is more of a vassal state under the control of others. The Oromo people want an immediate end of this state of affairs. This is an extremely self-evident truth that does not need any explanation. EPRDF has the responsibility to implement genuine federalism in Ethiopia.
The regime could have addressed these demands by negotiating with the opposition groups or by conducting re-elections. Neither of these has happened so far. Nothing has been done to address this demand of the #OromoProtests.
5. Making Afaan Oromoo A Federal Working Language
Making Afaan Oromo a federal working language was one of the quests of the #OromoProtests. Birhanemeskel expressed this demand as follows: “The federal government must make a policy decision to change this policy and replace it with bilingual language policy to make Afaan Oromo federal working language on equal footing with Amharic.”
He further elaborated, “Unless this monolingual language policy changes, Afaan Oromo speakers have no hope of either participating in the economic, political and social life of Ethiopia or even getting the services of the federal government.” The Ethiopian government must urgently make Afaan Oromo a federal working language on equal footing with Amharic as demanded by the #OromoProtests.
6. Addressing the “Special Interest of Oromia Regional State” in Addis Ababa
This question is a perennial question Oromo people have been demanding since Addis Ababa was separated from Oromia by Proclamation No.7/1992. Many have died for this very cause since then, and continue to die for it. As far as the Oromo people are concerned, the decision of the federal government to separate Addis Ababa from the surrounding Oromia region is null and void. The Oromo people need real power which includes taxing and policy-making. This is a vital issue that needs to be addressed.
It is an open secret that the government in power continues to exclude and marginalize the Oromo from Ethiopia’s economic, political and urban life systematically, mainly through the monolingual language policy and other related institutional mechanisms. Clear national and regional policies need to be put in place to remedy the past injustices perpetrated on the Oromo people in these areas and end the ongoing systemic marginalization of the Oromo and other Ethiopian nations and nationalities.
The government talks about good governance and corruption. It recognized the #OromoProtests by saying, “The people have legitimate grievances.” But it tried to address them by reshuffling the cabinet of ministers, appointing new ministers and new ministerial positions. The issue is much too critical to be addressed by mere talk about corruption and good governance or appointing new ministers. It is a real issue that needs legal, structural and policy reform. The Oromo people cannot continue with the current state of exclusion and marginalization. The Oromo protests show the Oromo people have had enough. It wants the government in power to address these issues head on. Otherwise, the Oromo people will take the law into their own hands and take their land and rights back. There is a possibility that we would lose everything. The country is in unchartered and troubled waters with an intoxicated and paranoid captain who could sink it at any moment! Therefore, all Ethiopians should be united and stand for their country and their very survival as a people and as a nation. #OromoRevolution#AmharaResistance #Ethiopia