The Oromo and Sidama Peoples’ Historical and Neighbourly Relation Cannot Be Dented by the TPLF Plots

OLF and SLF Joint Statement    

June 29, 2012

The Tigrian Peoples Liberation Front (TPLF) regime has relentlessly pursued the ‘divide and rule’ policy to prolong its grip on power. The regime has initiated conflict between different nations, nationalities and peoples at different times and places, since it came to power, causing destruction of thousands of lives and millions of dollars worth properties.

This anti peace and brutal regime, pursuant to its standing policy, has been engaged in overtly and covertly instigating conflict between the Oromo and the Sidama peoples. Accordingly it has managed to instigate conflict in the district of Riimaa Dhaadessaa between the Oromo people in Ajje sub‐zone of Arsi Zone and the Sidama people in Hawasa subzone of Sidama Zone. Loss of lives and property has been reported due to this conflict initiated by the agents of the regime on both sides.

The motive of the regime in initiating this conflict is consistent with its hitherto policy elsewhere. Spreading such misunderstanding and mutual suspicion between and among the peoples is to deny them the strength they would harness by cooperation in the struggle to get rid of their common oppressor, the TPLF regime.

The current conflict is specially connected to the Sidama peoples escalated demand for their right on Awasa, the regional capital city. It is to be recalled that a decade ago the regime has committed crime on the peacefully demonstrating people to present the same demand at Looqee, near Awasa massacring more than 100 people by day light.

The regime renewed the controversy around the city to instigate further conflict with the southern peoples on the one hand and relentlessly work to instigate another conflict between the historically related and intermarried neighbourly peoples of Oromo and Sidama on the other. We believe that the currently stirred conflict between the Oromo and the Sidama at Riimaa Dhadessa is part of the scheme to subdue the Oromo and Sidama people’s resistance through multifaceted attacks. In short it can be concluded that this is the continuation of the policy that has been applied against the Oromo people, which is instigating conflict with different neighbouring peoples, against the Sidama as well.

The Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) and the Sidama Liberation Front (SLF) strongly condemn the TPLF policy of instigating conflict between peoples and the damages caused thereby in general and that between the Oromo and Sidama in particular. The Oromo and Sidama peoples have long historical and neighbourly relation and have experienced similar history of subjugation. Besides being conquered at the same time both have lived the subsequent consecutive Ethiopian regimes’ subjugation similarly. They both have the same fate. Hence they need to be aware of and defuse the plot to put them against each other in order to prevent them from cooperating in getting rid of their common subjugator.

We call upon all the subjugated peoples in general and the Oromo and Sidama peoples in particular to refrain from giving any attention to the evil plot by the TPLF regime and instead form their historically effective common elders committee and resolve their conflicts in the established traditional way. We call upon them avoiding dependence on the subjugating regime to find a solution for any arising social problems and go instead for the common elders and resolve their conflicts, promote reconciliation and mutual compassion and get rid of the common enemy. We would like to assert the necessity of cooperation of the peoples with the same experience to get rid of the common tormentor, the TPLF regime.

The Oppressed Peoples’ Struggle Will Prevail!!

Oromo Liberation Front

Sidama Liberation Front

June 29, 2012

Ethiopia Convicts 24 of Terrorism; More than 100 Oromo political activists also being tried on similar charges

The defense lawyer for 24 people found guilty of terrorism in Ethiopia, Abebe Guta, talks to reporters on June 27, 2012 after a court in Addis Ababa found his clients guilty on charges of terrorism

June 24, 2012, NAIROBI (VOA News) – An Ethiopian court has convicted 24 people, including a prominent writer and an opposition leader on terrorism-related charges. Rights groups have condemned the verdict as an assault on the opposition.

Journalist Eskinder Nega and an opposition member Andualem Arage were among the eight defendants found guilty Wednesday by Ethiopia’s High Court in Addis Ababa. Another 16 people were convicted in absentia.

The men could face the death penalty for the charges including the encouragement of terrorism and high treason. Sentencing is expected next month.

The case against Eskinder included an argument that he had advocated for violence by writing about whether Ethiopia would ever experience the kind of Arab Spring uprising that swept North Africa.

He was also accused of supporting an outlawed political party called Ginbot Seven, which the government has labelled a terrorist group.

East Africa Representative for the Committee to Protect Journalists, Tom Rhodes, said the court cases were part of the government’s attempts to silence the opposition.

“It reflects a government now that is totally, has no acceptance of any form of criticism whatsoever and is cracking down on the press,” he said.

The defendants were convicted under a 2009 terrorism law that makes it illegal to publish any information deemed to encourage terrorist acts.

Two Ethiopian journalists were sentenced to 14 years in prison in January on similar charges. And two Swedish journalists convicted of supporting terrorism have been imprisoned for 11 years.

Rights groups have accused the government of using the law to silence dissent, and to target members of the ethnic Oromo opposition, a charge the government flatly denies.

Tom Rhodes says the anti-terrorism policy has effectively stamped out freedom of expression in the country.

“My impression is, and what I can gather from other local journalists in Ethiopia, especially Addis Ababa, is that the government is getting nervous about popular dissent against them and the first target on their list happens to be journalists and happens to be the media,” he said. “We really, we have only got one or two critical voices left in the country.”

Journalists and a human rights defender were among the 16 men who were sentenced in absentia Wednesday.

More than 100 ethnic Oromo political activists are also being tried on similar charges. Prosecutors allege they were involved with the outlawed Oromo Liberation Front, or OLF.

The defendants include the top leaders of the two main Oromo opposition parties and former members of parliament.

VOA News

Demystifying Abysinia, the fake nation

The Abuse of Music by Abyssinian Azmari: the case of Tedy Afro

June 20, 2012 (Shaggar Index) – There are people who thrive on the fame of the dead. Indeed there are people who thrive on the noxious fumes of dead zombies. One such person is Tedy Afro who continued living on the dead spirit of Abyssinian worst dictators. This article is in response to Teddy Afro’s latest Album, the album which Tedy wrongly labeled Tikur Sew.  My intention is not to educate Tedy or any other Habesha musician. The objective of this article is to indicate how Tedy abused music and also how he wronged the late Emperor Menelik II by mislabelling the Caucasian Emperor as a black man.

Purpose of music

Humanity employed music for several purposes, positive as well as negative. Music has been part of human experience in every culture and society since time immemorial. From the earliest cultures of humankind until now music has been used to express a wide range of human emotions; love, joy, celebration, sadness, anger and fear. Music has been used to inspire patriotism, incite wars and promote peace. Music played an exceedingly great role in communicating ideas to the masses with minimum resistance and it played great roles in bringing different cultures together. In this respect, music is rightly called the universal language. Ancient and modern society also employed the healing ability of music to threat patients. Music can also heal a racially, religiously, and culturally divided society.

Abuse of music

This great purpose of music has been continuously abused by past and present Azmari Habash. Azmari musicians fail to realize that a tool as powerful as music needs to come with guidance and instructions. For a society to use the healing ability of music, they must first understand the purpose of music for human consumption. To serve its positive purpose, music is supposed to be a pure and neutral spiritual force that should serve all humanity for positive end. Regardless of their philosophy of life or worldview, gifted musician should be careful in making their work free of prejudices and hates. Most Habash musicians lack this quality of using music for positive end and have been abusing the universal purpose of music. Abyssinian music, from ancient time to present, have been composed mainly not only to perpetuate hate message towards other ethnic groups which are outside their own narrow circle, but also to glorify kings, emperors, empress, war lords (like Tewodros), and those who share the bloodlines of the kings, while at the same time they despised common citizens and subjects of these emperors and dictators. It is out of such an unparalleled abuse of music that  Habasha musicians composed music to honor brutal dictators like Mengistu Haile Mariam, who  butchered hundreds thousands of youth during his 17 years reign.

Abyssinian’s negative music

Though Ethiopia is blessed with rich culture and music, past Abyssinian regimes have limited nations and nationalities from developing their culture and music.  Amharic music dominated the country for over a century. Prohibition of nations and nationalities form developing their couture was not the only problem. Even those Amharic music and musicians have been openly expressing their hatred to other cultures in Ethiopia. Amaric music itself had been dominated by Azmaris. The Azmari of Habash, i.e., Habasha traditional musicians, through their music praised Emperors and the killing squad of these brutal Emperors. These Azmaris praised one race and despised others. It can be argued that they totally missed the important role that music serves. Many of the Artists that Ethiopia has witnessed have been serving the regime in which they lived.  Modern Ethiopian musician are educated in the Azmari culture and share the same nostalgia of the past Emperors. Ethiopian music says almost nothing about the general society. No music is composed for the common people.  Ethiopian music is dominated by odes for kings and Emperors. During Menelik, Habasha Azmari praised Menelik and his mercenary soldiers who mutilated millions of Oromos, and Sothern Nation and Nationalities throughout the empire.  During Hailesilassie, the feudal land lords who lived on the sweats of Oromo subjects received appreciation from Azmari. This trend of Azmari praising those who live on the blood of common people continued into the Dergue Era and TPLF too. During Dergue period, those who killed innocent civilians in the so called Qey Shibibir were celebrated by Azmari( musicians) of Ethiopia as heroes.

Azmari Teddy Afro-Reincarnating the dead

With the above background on Abyssinian negative music, I would like to say few points about Tedy Afro.  Tedy Afro, for the past few years, has been deliberately resurrecting some dead zombies, and he is making money and fame out of such dirty and unethical work. The two great Zombies that he resurrected so far are Emperor Menelik and King Hailesilassie. Anytime some one resurrect the dead, a lot of questions crop up; from political to ethical.  Is there any moral guide that stops musicians from reanimating worst dictators and mercenaries?  What is the political significance of reincarnating a barbaric mass killer like Menelik for Ethiopian people at this time? As a matter of fact, Tedy started his career from the very beginning by glorifying King Hailessilassie. This is the same king who watched in silence as millions of Ethiopians perish during the 1977 famine. Dr.Tilahun Gessessei wrote lyrics about the agonizing pains of those Ethiopians and he wept as he played the song. Tedy praised the king who saved millions of dollars in foreign bank while those Ethiopians suffered and perished. What a difference!

The musical piece Tedy composed for the late monarch seems to have rallied the majority of feudal elements who during the reign of king Hailessilassie lived on the bloods and sweats of the Ethiopian poor. Now that Tedy wrote lyrics and composed music for the great zombie of all time (Menelik), he qualify to be recognized as an entrepreneur who lives on the fame of dead monarchies. He is making himself name and money off the dead dictators. By doing so he successfully milked those Abyssinians who always dreamt the second coming of Hailesilassie and Menelik, but immensely disrespected millions Ethiopians who suffered in the hand of these dictators.

I asked myself what objective the young artist might have on his mind when he composed the Tikur Sew lyrics for Menelik.  We know that Menelik is not Tikur. That is to say he is notTikur by choice, by his own preference. Menelik is not a ‘black man’ because he rejected his blackness. You don’t need any other witness other than Menelik himself to prove that he wasn’t black.  Shame on you Tedy; you tried your best to twist history just in the same way many Debteras did in the past Ethiopian history. Unfortunately, what you tried to reverse is irreversible.  Historians have documented it very well. You cannot make Menelik to be proud of his blackness. Menelik dismissed it in public. He told the whole world that he is Caucasian, not black.

‘I am not a Negro at all; I am a Caucasian’ the Emperor Menelik told the West Indian pan-Africanist Benito Sylvian who had come to Addis Ababa to solicit the Emperor’s leadership in a society for the ‘Amelioration of the Negro race.’ Haile Sellassie confirmed that view in a declaration to Chief H. O. Davis, a well-known Nigerian nationalist, stating that the Ethiopians did not regard themselves as Africans, but as ‘a mixed Hamito-Semitic people.(See John H. Spencer, Ethiopia at Bay (1984), p. 306.)

With regard to the great purpose that music plays to bring people together and minimize tension among ethnic lines, Tedy’s recent Album played the exact opposite. Oromo youth around the world have taken to facebook and other Medias to boycott the album which glorifies a mercenary who butchered our forefathers and mothers. This album is more dividing than healing Ethiopian people. In particular it is an insult to Oromo nation and Southern Nations and Nationalities. It is a complete disregard to the lives of those who were massacred by the invading army of Menelik.  It is an insult to the entire Oromo nation and South Nations who survived the genocide Abyssinian Army perpetrated against us.   It is an outrageous act of praising a criminal who inhumanly butchered millions of children, women and innocent men.

It is only human for Teddy to sing about the suffering of those who were sold to slavery. It is right if Teddy condemn the misery to which Menelik and other slave traders subjected millions of children, women and young people from all corners of Ethiopia.  What about the human dignity of those millions of Ethiopians who were sold to Arab slave traders?  How about Oromo mothers whose breasts were cut off by Menelik and his army? How about the millions of Oromo men whose right hands were cut off after they surrendered to Meniliks army? How is that a son of Ethiopia, who lives in 21 century praise a butcher and slave traders like Menelik  II?

That is what Abyssinians did to us, to the Nations in the Southern Ethiopia. Given the nature of Abyssinians, current or past, it is not surprising to see in market a musical piece that glorify criminals. What is so surprising is how we the victims react to such Abyssinian National Projects. Why do we buy albums that glorify the massacre of our forefathers and foremothers, our sisters and our brothers? Why would we sing to the beat of our tormentors? Why is that we fiancé Abyssinian projects which are intended to humiliate and destroy us?   Abyssinians like Tedy have been taking Big Marches of the Dead in commemorating the dead who killed our ancestors. They are celebrating the victory of evil over good. They are celebrating the death of millions of innocent children and women in the hands of mercenaries like Menelik. Then, why is that the Oromo nation and Sothern Nation failed to take March of the Living to commemorate our ancestors who perished in the hands of Menelik and his army?

Debtera Tedy, here is a brief account of the two dead zombies which you tried to reincarnated as benevolent leaders.

Hailesilassie

When the facts of history are written King Haile Selassie will go down as a great coward who ran away from his country to save his skin and left the millions of our countrymen to struggle through a terrible war that he brought upon Ethiopians because of his political ignorance.  While   he was licking Europeans shoes in exile, Ethiopians were fighting Mussolini at home.  Brave Ethiopians defeated the Italian invading army. Unfortunately the mighty British installed Hailesilassie back to power.  Ethiopian patriots thought the Emperor would recognize their bravery and promote them. What that dwarf king did however was the exact opposite. He executed many of them and promoted those bandaslike himself who run away to foreign land during the period of occupation.

Running away from his country when his country needed him most was not the only shame of king Hailesilassie.  He utterly denied his blackness. When Haile Selassie fled to London, Garvey tried to contact him but was snubbed, and it was reported that “the emperor did not desire any contact with ‘Negroes’ “. (The New World of Negro Americans by Harold Robert Isaacs p.153)

During the great Ethiopian famine, in which millions of our nationals in Wallo starved to death, the Emperor and his cabinets were saving millions of dollars in the Swiss Bank and lived in excess in Addis Ababa. Today, despite such shames, many Habasha musicians honor the late tyrant Emperor as a benevolent ruler of his subjects. Top among such Asmari who glorify this great dictator is Tedy Afro.

Menelik

Another of Ethiopians brutal tyrant and mass butcher is Emperor Menelik who receives endless glorification form past and present Habasha Asmaris. Menlik is notoriously known in Abyssinia and around the world for mutilation of breast and hands of innocent Oromo nationals at Chalanko and Hanole in Oromia. Europeans called him the greatest slave trade entrepreneur ever known in Africa. He personally sold Ethiopians of black skin to Arab slave traders. In addition he generated income by taxing other slave traders in Ethiopia who sold millions of non-Abyssinian Ethiopians to Arab slave merchants.

Clarence writes, “Meneliks reign, first as king of SHOWA, and later as an emperor marks the watershed in the history of servile labour and slave traffic in Ethiopia.” (Clarence, page 115).  Clarence-Smith observed commercial slavery was intensifies under the government of Menilik, particularly in the newly incorporated Southern peripheries (outside Abyssinia proper). After he was crowned emperor in 1889, Menilik signed several treaties with European nations to end slave traffic in Ethiopia.  These include the Anti-slave provisions in the Ethio-Italy treaty of Wuchale and the 1889-1890 General Act of Brussels Conference on slavery.  In the next decades Menelik promulgated several acts to abolish slavery; just the same way TPLF included several citizens’ right in the current Ethiopian constitution. Yet he (Menilik) continued with slave trade precisely for two reasons.

First the reach booty, in the form of slaves, he used extract from the newly colonized Oromo, South Nation and Somali land was irresistible (Clarence, page 116). He used the plunder from non-Abyssinian Southern captives (Oromo, South Nations, and Somali) to sustain royal finance. Clarence wrote that between 1878 and 1882 Menelik paid a punitive yearly tribute of 200,000 thalers(dollars) to Emperor Yohannes.  Menelik sustained such financial commitment by taxing commercial slave traders. In the late 1880 custom duties on slaves, at thalers(dollars) as they entered Shawa and again as they left Shawa, was estimated to raise more than 10,000 thalers( dollars) per year.

The second reason for Meneliks reticence to end slavery was his financial commitment to European arms dealers. Menilik relied on income form slave trade to purchase arms from European traders such as Soleillet, Chefnaux, Bremond, and Labatat( Clarence Page 116).

Teddy and many Abyssinians glorify the human tragedy that the Southerners were subjected to after occupation. During the raid, conquest and occupation of Oromo land, thousands of free Oromo men, women, and children were seized and enslaved by Menilik and his commanders.  Clarence describes the process of enslavement as follows.   “ Menelik’s expeditions into the Southern Ethiopia set a ferocious pattern. As Shawan forces razed entire districts, they usually kill male defenders and enslave their wives and children.  Menelik gained half the plunders and the captives; his generals and soldiers divided the rest according to rank.”(Clarence, page 117). This is the king which Tedy Afro glorifies and wrote epic poems to immortalize him. The children and women, the millions, who were deprived of their lives, their liberty, their dignity, and sold into slavery have no place for Teddy and other Abyssinian racists.

After the Oromo land was completely subdued, Emperor Menilik continued his territorial expansion to produce more captives.  Clarence notes, “ In Walamo in 1894, Ethiopian forces seized 15,000-20,000 prisoners, of whom the Emperor took 1800 as slaves. Raids on the new colonial land( non-Abyssinian ) land persisted even after 1900.

Teddy Afro and many Habasha musicians who glorify Menlik II, Mengistu Hailemariam and King Hailesilassie are not ignorant of the wrongs that these brutal rulers have subjected the Oromo people and the South Nations and Nationalities. They know more than we know. They know more than the victims, how Habesha leaders subdued and converted the non-Abyssinian Ethiopians into their subjects. The killing of millions of children, women and innocent civilians in the formation of Empire Ethiopia is a heroic action that most Abyssinians are proud of.  That is why all Habasha Azmari never mention the brutality of kings and emperors. That is why they never mention in their poetry or music about the suffering of ordinary people. That is why Habasha musician don’t know how to write poems that uphold justice, rule of law, and human rights. That is why Habasha musicians are not able to compose music about equality of human kind, freedom to life, freedom to expression, and equality of nations and nationalities.  The music of a Habasha man and women is all about the unity of Ethiopia and those Emperors who rules that Empire, regardless of how brutal these rulers were/are and how the territorial integrity of Ethiopia tramped on the natural right of nations and nationalities.

Such abuse and misuse of music leaves negative impact on society. Its trail paves ways for destruction of future generation. Due to lack of knowledge Azmarian negative music of Habash has driven society down a path it was never meant to travel. I can argue that they contributed immensely to build mistrust among good Ethiopians than love and unity. Tedy‘s recent work is the worst divisive music ever.

1. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-14357121

2. The Economics of the Indian Ocean Slave Trade in the Nineteenth Century, 1989

By W. G. Clarence-Smith

Shaggarindex

A Special Force Unit of OLA Killed 9 and Wounded 5

June 12, 2012 (Oromo Liberation Front) – A Special Force Unit of the Oromo Liberation Army operating in different parts of Oromia has continued its attack on enemy troops. Accordingly a Special OLA Unit killed 7 WoyaneEthiopian troops and wounded 4 in Northern Shoa zone Kuyyu County [Woreda] on June 4, 2012 by putting the enemy troops in a trap. The attacked enemy troop was said to have been dispatched to the area for the so called “search operation” of OLA. The Oromo population of the area have played a key role in the success of this attack operation.

Meanwhile, another Special Force Unit of the OLA operating in the capital Finfinne (Addis Ababa) has killed 2 Woyane troops and wounded 1 in Gullalle area of the capital, County 8, Kebele 03 on June 05, 2012 around 7:30 PM local time when the enemy troops were recreating.

OLF News

–Oromoliberationfront.org

The empire strikes back: an Ethiopian opposition finds old enemy

 

By Buri Waddesso

June 10, 2012 (opride) – After convening in the Canadian town of Ottawa, a new diaspora-based Ethiopian opposition outfit, Ethiopian National Transitional Council (Hizbawi Shengo), issued a Draft Transitional Constitution. The gist of the document can be gleaned from the first item in the preamble: ”Determined to live in unity and freedom, and to erase the effects of ethnic division and tribalist policies and practices.”

Two things are notable. One, that the erasure of “ethnic division” is more paramount than guaranteeing freedom. Two, that Ethiopia’s primary political enemy is ethnicity, not dictatorship.

The draft charter goes on to detail exactly how the constitution’s supreme objective, erasing ethnic divisions, is to be achieved. Two instruments are chosen to do the herculean job. One, the restructuring of governance. Gone will be the regional states as we know them; Oromia, Amhara, Tigray, South, Somali, Afar, Beni-Shangul-Gumuz, and Gambella, etc, and in comes the old regional structure that reminds the Teklay Gizat. “The federal system shall be based upon geographic and historical realities and the separation of powers, and not upon ethnicity, nationality, or religion (article 4). Two, language policy. Amharic would be the only “official” medium of communication displacing other vernaculars from the halls of the National Assembly, public schools, the courts, and official conferences (article 9).

One of the ostensible values of the charter is equality before the law. It did not occur to the drafters of the charter how a Sidama, a Walaita, and a Kaficho — who would be forced to speak to a judge through a translator — and an Amhara, who would charm the court, thanks to his fluency in his mother tongue, would be deemed to have enjoyed equality under the proposed setup. Too focused on defeating the enemy, it escaped the “steering committee” to visualize how an Oromo, and a Somali elder elected by the people to represent them in the National Assembly would equally participate in the political life of the country – when they would be barred from presenting the petitions, grievances, aspirations, and concerns of their constituents to this supreme legislative bodyin a language they are most comfortable speaking.

Ethiopians have a vivid image of such an equality etched in their individual and collective memory. The distinction between citizens and subjects has been in force since the state came into being. Before the fall of the Dergue, the Amhara were presumed full citizens and Tigreans a bit shy. The rest were subjects (if in doubt read the imperial constitution of 1931) – “all the natives of Ethiopia, subjects of the empire, form together the Ethiopian Empire.” Learning to speak Amharic and converting to Christianity opened up a few doors, while the high glass ceiling remained shut out to them.

–Full Text Story Opride.com

Deadly, Religiously Outrageous, and Socially Destructive Consequences of Land Grab in Western Ethiopia


HRLHA – Press Release
June 7, 2012

Apart from displacements and dispossessions without consents and compensations, more and more negative consequences of land grab in the name of development are surfacing from time to time in different parts of Ethiopia; all outcries, criticisms and demands for corrective measures falling on deaf ears.

According to information obtained by HRLHA from Wixate locality in Yayyo District of Ilubabbor Zone in western Oromia, a teenager called Zerihun Girma has died after being buried alive in a man-made landslide created from a mountain of soil dumped along a small river in a residential area. The soil was coming from the digging into the ground for a coal mine project underway in the area.

 

Zerihun Girma

Zerihun, a grade eight student of age 14, was playing with his fellow teenagers when this happened to him without any awareness and doubt about the deadly nature of the dump. Not only that the soil and other excavations from the digging were being dumped in a residential neighborhood, but also there were no signs of warning posted to keeping people and animals away from the area. The teenager’s body could not have been located had it not been for his mates who were playing with him at the moment. The local people told HRLHA’s agent that the operators of bulldozers, who were at work on the site when Zerihun’s body was retrieved, were not even cooperative to remove the hill of soil to reach the teenager’s remains.

The other outrageous act that has angered the local people was the digging up of a cemetery that has been there for over a century without the slightest respect for the human remains lying underneath. According to eyewitnesses, a lot of human remains, some of them still wrapped up in burial clothes, were coming out on to the surface when the bulldozer operators continued to dig the area despite the strong opposition from the local residents. More inhumane and shocking was that no attempts were made to allow and help the local people to even collect and re-burry the remains somewhere else.
Personalized complaints in relation to this particular land grab are that the displaced farmers, some of whom have up to seven family members on average, were neither consulted nor given their consents, and that was everything directly or indirectly imposed from above. They add that some of them received no or very minimal compensations their properties including homes, land, fruits and coffee plantations. A displaced farmer who was interviewed by HRLHA’s local agent mentioned that he was paid 1.4 million Ethiopian Birr for his overall properties that were originally estimated at 4.4 million. Another interviewee, who claimed to have been offered the lowest estimation for his properties, said that he was paid 4,400 (four thousand four hundred) Ethiopian only; instead of the original estimate which was 248,000 (two hundred forty eight thousand) Ethiopian. This particular interviewee, whose name was Zeinu Ibrahim, told HRLHA local agent that he was summoned to the district police headquarters and administration office, and threatened with losing everything and go bear-handed if he were not accepting what he was offered.

The HRLHA has learnt through its correspondent that the coal mine project is owned and operated by two TPLF/EPRDF affiliated Para-party companies known as EFORT (Endowment Fund for the Rehabilitation of Tigray) and Mekelakeya Engineering. Contrary to the rhetoric that with land grabs in the name of development – job opportunity, economic growth, etc – this coal mine project in Yayyo, Witate in particular comes with hardly any benefit for the local people. This is because there is nothing to be done in the area, apart from digging the coal out and taking it up to the Tigray Region, where the processing of the mine takes place. Asked by the local people at the initial stage of the mining project as to why the processing was not planned to be done here at the mining site or in nearby areas, the politician answered that the processing machinery was too big and too heavy to be transported down to this western part of the country – an explanation deemed a pretext that is aimed at discriminately benefitting the ruling party and its region of origin (Tigray).

The project is said to be affecting six kebeles (the lowest and smallest administrative territory); and so far 13 (thirteen) households have been displaced and made almost homeless with no alternatives given to them for livelihoods. Mr. Zeinu (mentioned above) from Witate kebele, whose wife is expecting in addition to five other family members, said that he and his wife are waiting for the arrival of the new baby in the middle of nowhere. What is more, this coal- mine project is taking place at the heart of a big geographical area designated by UNESCO to be preserved for the diverse wildlife, forestry, and other natural resources, posing a huge threat of environmental catastrophe.

In general, all that have been demonstrated around this coal mine project are disregard, lack of care and precautions for both human and other lives and the environment, contempt and disrespect for the local people and their social, cultural, and religious values, biases, irresponsibility and lack of accountability particularly in facilitating means of rehabilitation for the people who are being dispossessed and displaced. In countries like Ethiopia where the majority leads a hand-to-mouth life, depriving peoples off their means of existence without replacements or alternative is condemning them to absolute destitution, and risking human lives.

The HRLHA calls up on the Ethiopian Government to interfere in this and other similar situations in which the local people are victimized socially and economically by become preys of the greedy that pursue group interest. We request that the Government discharge Its responsibility as a legitimate ruling body by ensuring that there is a leveled playing field for all stakeholders, and that such development projects are free from political favoritism and regional biases, and that the local people are the prime beneficiaries, not victims, of development activities. We also call up on all local, regional and/or global development agencies that have partnered with the Government and are directly or indirectly engaged in development activities in the Country that they play a watchdog role of monitoring that there are fair treatments of the ordinary citizens and equal benefits of resource exploitations and management.

Full Document