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March 30, 2017

Extension of the State of Emergency-All is Not Well in Oromia

On October 8, 2016, in the wake of the 2016 October Irrecha Massacre, the Ethiopian government declared a state of emergency for a period of six months. Today, by a unanimous vote, the pseudo-parliament has extended the declaration for 4 months. This is a clear indication that all is not well in Ethiopia.

Following the state of Emergency, most areas of Oromia and some areas in the Amhara state were virtually put under a military rule called a Command Post. Under the rule of the Command Post, the previous serious human rights violations in Oromia were further intensified and caused an alarming and untold misery on the people.

Today, by and large, Oromia is turned into one big prison camp. State structures are overtaken by a military rule, and special paramilitary Agazi force comprising mainly of Tigrean are terrorizing the population. Anybody could be jailed and tortured at any time for just being born an Oromo.  Schools, public services, Commerce, farms, and all other trades and vocations were disrupted. People lived in the last six months under a constant fear of imprisonment, torture and execution.

It is this state of affairs that the Ethiopian pseudo parliament today prolonged for six more months.  Even before the declaration of the state of emergency, Ethiopia was not by any stretch of imagination a democratic state where the rights of the population were respected. With the introduction of the State of Emergency, however, things just went from bad to worse. Furthermore, the extrajudicial killings and forced disappearances, tortures and imprisonment were simply normalized and legalized.

In today’s Ethiopia, the state of emergency has become the new normal. The prolonging of this perverse repression and torturous situation will have its toll and a long lasting consequence.  In order to normalize its brutal repression, the government tries to dismiss the Oromo Protest as triggered by outside forces, and itself as efficient enforcer of law and order. Additionally, it tries to normalize it by portraying the state of emergency as a needed temporary measure.

However much the government tries to justify its brute actions and normalize its violence, the Oromo and other peoples of Ethiopia will not accept this state of affair and live in their own land as animals in a cage.  What exists in Ethiopia today is not normal, and it is the moral obligation of everyone to resist and bring an end to it.

Oromo-American Citizens Council (OACC) is a Minnesota non-profit organization established and functioning since 2002. We are made up of Oromo-Americans and others who are concerned about Oromo issues. Among others, we advocate for equal rights of Oromos in Ethiopia, expose human rights violations, and help initiate dialogue and reconciliation among various Ethiopian groups.