By Oromo Press
In Oromia, Ethiopia, and in the Diasporas where significant numbers of Oromo people live, the first year anniversary of the Oromo mass uprising against the repressive policies of the Ethiopian regime is being observed worldwide this month.
The anniversary is being observed with mixed feelings and outcomes: with jubilation that the Oromo struggle for self-government has reached a critical mass effectively crippling the colonial civilian administration of the Tigrean-led Ethiopian regime in Oromia; with dismay at the failure of the international community to take meaningful action against the regime that has killed over 2500, maimed tens of thousands and imprisoned and tortured hundreds of thousands of civilians in Oromia alone.
All who observe the tragic developments in Oromia and Ethiopia know that major donor governments to Ethiopia such as the US, EU, England and Canada along with international financial institutions such as the World Bank and IMF have remained dangerously silent on the wide-ranging atrocity crimes the Ethiopian government has been committing against civilian populations in Oromia and other regions of Ethiopia.
The international community is failing once again in Oromia, Ethiopia in stopping crimes against humanity and genocide despite providing a whopping USD 3.5B a year to the Tigrean-led Ethiopian government in “development aid.”
According to a report by The Oakland Institute, a US-based public policy think tank that has produced several credible reports on massive violations of land rights in Ethiopia, development aid makes up 50-60 percent of the national budget. Instead of improving the human condition, aid has been unquestionably used by the Ethiopian government to implement contested and malicious programs aimed at enriching the ruling elites at the expense of impoverishing and dislocating millions of farmers from their ancestral lands.
In Oromia, and dozens of cities around the world Oromo communities staged protests against the mass killings and the massive abuses in their homeland all year round. They marched in front government offices in Washington, London, Ottawa, Brussels, among other cities, demanding donors to end supporting repressive Ethiopian regime and urging intervention to stop the carnage.
Despite these recurrent and desperate pleas, all the protesters have received from the US, UK, Canada, and the EU has been lukewarm press releases and expressions of concern. The protesters wanted donors to intervene in stopping mass atrocities by withdrawing aid and by imposing other sanctions against the the leadership of the regime. To their disappointment and frustration, foreign aid/security assistance to the Ethiopian government have actually increased simultaneously with massive repressive measures by the Ethiopian government, including mass killings during the Grand Oromo Protests of August 6th and the Irreecha Massacre of October 2, 2016 and the declaration of state emergency on October 9th justify military rule through “Command Posts.”
After the state of emergency, state-led mass atrocities continued in the dark because the regime fully disrupted all means of communication, including the internet, social media applications and diaspora based radio and satellite television broadcasts.
Tepid and misconstrued statements from the US State Department, the African Union, and the European Union, which contained no action or even a threat of meaningful action against the genocidal behaviors of the Ethiopian government, have at best signaled to the regime that donor inaction meant approval to the regime to proceed with violent measures against defenseless civilians.
A quick review of US security assistance to Ethiopia between April 2014 and November 2016 (periods of intense mass uprising in Oromia) shows that aid increased as state-led atrocity crimes increased there. According to Security Assistance Monitor, a Washington DC-based policy group that “tracks and analyzes U.S. security sector assistance programs worldwide,” Ethiopia received funds in the following areas and amounts: “Military & Police Aid $1,270,000(2016); Humanitarian & Development Aid $402,613,000(2016); Arms Sales $5,763,335(2014); Trainees 49 (2014).”
Data shows that US military and police aid to Ethiopia spiked from $1.5M in 2014 to $25M in 2015. This declined back to slightly over 1.5M in 2016.
The popular expectation is that donor countries and financial institutions would stop security assistance and development funds to Ethiopia at this juncture when the Ethiopian regime is engaged in massive atrocity crimes in Oromia and Ethiopia. The tragic reality is that aid money continues to flow into Ethiopia despite massive totalitarian repressions.
Donor countries and major international financial institutions are among international actors with significant leverage in their hands—aid—to demand the respect for human rights and end to genocide, and to create a new broad-based inclusive and democratic order in Ethiopia. Donors have been reluctant in using this leverage.
Generating further instability and uncertainty, donors have so far failed in their responsibility to protect majority civilian populations from atrocity crimes by an ethnic-extremist minority regime. If this trend of inaction continues, donor countries would be one of the biggest losers because they have effectively alienated the majority by enabling minority totalitarianism over them.
The Oromo and other persecuted peoples of Oromia-Ethiopia should organize and form strategic alliances not only to reverse the ongoing genocide, but also to prove to the world that a determined and organized majority shall win and install a just and democratic order worthy of international support.