By Leenjiso Horo, January 2017
The Tigrayan fascist regime has undertaken open and hidden total genocidal war against the Oromo men, women, and children. It has been carrying out systematic, methodical, pre-planned, and centrally-organized genocidal mass massacre against the Oromo men, women and children. Our people have been and are facing the cruelest and barbarous fascist regime since 1991. It has particularly targeted women, youths and children. The purpose is to deny to Oromo, their future generation so as to reduce the population of Oromo to a minority. It has already put its plan of action to erase the Oromo people through genocide.
Today, many Oromo know about Aannoolee- Harmaa fi Harka muraa Aannoolee, but most know very little about Azule. Azule is a place where Menelik Army defeated Arsi on September 6, 1886. The question is as to what lead to the defeat of Arsi after having defeated Menelik II’s army five times. Here is the reason. Prior to Azule, at the fifth military engagement the Abyssinians by the help of their Europeans advisors prepared thousands blankets infested with smallpox and dropped them in the engagement sight. The Abyssinian Army having defeated, left the blankets behind and fled away. The Arsi warriors after having defeated the enemy, then took the blankets without knowing that the blankest were infested with smallpox. Here what has to be understood is that the Abyssinians had used smallpox as a biological warfare to totally exterminate Arsi Oromo. The weaponization of smallpox as a biological warfare has been widely considered as the most powerful and effective weapon ever created to eliminate human life. Menelik II of Abyssinia used this weaponized smallpox against Arsi. Few months after its introduction, smallpox epidemic broke out in killing many Arsi Oromo. This devastated and totally decimated Arsi who had never exposed to such disease before. Countless number of people died; hundreds of thousands became sick and weak. It was during this time, Menelik of Abyssinia again launched his sixth military attack against Arsi. It was the introduction of this weaponized smallpox as a biological warfare that led to the defeat of Arsi at the six military engagement. Still after the defeat, Arsi continued resisting the Abyssinians. Menelik II was unable to collect tribute nor taxes from Arsi during his life time. Because Arsi refused to pay.
The collection of taxes was left to Haile Selassie. Haile Selassie upon crowned emperor of the Ethiopian empire in 1930 created a mechanism of collecting taxes. First, in the same year in 1930, he established Balabbat system in Arsi. The Balabbats’ became instrument for collecting taxes and keeping “peace” in the area on the behalf of the new Abyssinian rulers. In today’s politics balabbat means cadre. That is balabbats were cadres of colonizer of Oromiyaa. He gave twenty acres of land to the each Balabbats to live on and the rest of Arsi were dispossessed of their lands as a punishment. The lands were given to absentee landlord who had never set their feet on the lands. For first time landlordism implemented in Arsi. Hence, Arsi became tenants on their own lands. In addition to this, Haile Selassie split Arsi into four: eastern part of Arsi was annexed to Hararghe; the western part was annexed to Central Oromiyaa and re-named it “Haayqoochinaa Buttaa Jaraa”-the Rift Valley region and its southern part was made Bale province, Goba as its capital city. And the central and northern part remained as a proper Arsi province, Asalla as its capital city. Hence, the relationship between Arsi and Abyssinian ever since the war of conquest to-date has remained a relationship of enmity. In the words of Patrick Wolfe,”Land is life—or, at least, land is necessary for life. Thus contests for land can be—indeed, often are—contests for life.” This is true throughout history to-date. The Tigrayan fascist regime’s grabbing the Oromo lands and eviction of our people from their lands must be understood in terms of life. Evicting the Oromo farmers from their farmlands means depriving them life.
Aannoolee: A birth place of non-violence resistance
Non-violence has been used as a means to challenge injustices since and before the time of Christ up to present. The first recorded act of civil disobedience in history is the refusal of the Hebrew midwives to obey Pharaoh's order to kill all male Hebrew babies in 1350 BC (Exodus 1:15-19).
Since the Christ time, the first non-violent resistance started in American in 1765-1775 against the British rule. It was a decade of non-violent struggle. It started as American Independent movement. The resistance took three phases of non-violent struggle.
The First Phase: The first phase of nonviolence started with protest marches, demonstrations, petition writing; boycotts; stoppage of work; refusing to purchase goods and services belongs to British citizens and its supporters; settling disputes out of colonial courts. After all these failed to bring any change, they went to the second phase.
The Second Phase: The second non-violent phase started with the destruction of the British properties; destroying import and export goods, burning the British citizens’ and its supporters’ farms and etc. With all these, the British did not respond with killing the members of non-violent movement. Again, this phase also did not bring the intended result. Then, the third phase came into being.
The Third Phase: In the third phase, non-violence resistance was abandoned for military action. Here, what this means is the non-violent movement transformed itself into taking violent action. It was through direct military action, the thirteen American colonists defeated the British colonial rule and declared independence from it in 1776.
The second non-violent resistance in history after the birth of Christ was that of Hungarians resistance against Austrian rule in 1850-1867. In this non-violent resistance, Austria conceded self-governance to Hungary as a part of Austro-Hungarian federation without killing the members of resistance.
The third non-violent resistance in history of the world was the Arsi Oromo non-violent resistance after their defeat at Azule that ended in blood shed in 1886. It was the first non-violent resistance in history that ended in bloodshed; never happened in history before it. After the defeat at Azule, Arsi continued resistance to Abyssinia. They refused to pay tribute to Menelik II. For this, Menelik II of Abyssinia sought to negotiate with Arsi, a terms of peace. Arsi Oromo were open to negotiation for peace. The location chosen for the negotiation was Aannoolee. So, they assembled at Aannoolee to work out the terms of peace. Tenth of thousands of men and women with their children were gathered at Aannoolee. The terms of peace the Abyssinians offered to Arsi were to surrender their sovereignty, to render obedience and promise to pay tribute and accept Menelik as their legitimate king. The Arsi Assembly refused to negotiation on the sovereignty of Arsi and refused to subject themselves to alien domination and occupation. Hence, Arsi rejected the terms of peace the Abyssinian King Menelik offered them.
In anger and humiliation at the rejection, Menelik gave ordered to his uncle Ras Darge Sahle Selassie, the commander of war in Arsi to attack the men, women and children at the assembly so as to teach the Arsi a lesson for their refusal. The Arsi Oromo at the Assembly were not armed. But, the Amharas were armed. Despite this, Arsi choose to die or to loose part of their body rather than negotiate terms of surrender of their sovereignty to Abyssinia. In the attack, the Abyssinian Army cut off the right hands of men and boys and right breasts of women and girls as a punishment for their résistance. Not only these, the cut off hands and breasts were used as means of punishment, degradation, humiliation, and terrorization of Arsi by tying the cut off hands and breasts around the necks of men, women, girls and boys. From the infection of the wounds many men, women and children perished. Despite of all these, Arsi Oromo throughout history of their occupation have never accepted the legitimate of Abyssinia over their territory. Aannoolee is the first in history world where a peaceful, non-violent unarmed resistance was violently attacked and the attack was ended up in bloodshed. Still, Arsi refused to surrender. In committing such heinous crimes with cruelty on human beings, on the peaceful, non-violent unarmed resisting people, Menelik II of Abyssinia showed the world how far the human cruelty can go. For this, centuries may pass by, generations may come and go, but the crimes and cruelty of Abyssinia — the mutilation of hands of men and boys and of breasts of women and girls at Aannolee will never be erased from the memory of generations; will never be diminished, and never be forgotten. Aannoolee is not in the remote ages and not about forgotten things; it is a living picture of things of present. Aannoolee is a living spirit of Oromo non-violent resistance. Indeed, Aannoolee stands as a symbol of non-violent unarmed resistance that ended in bloodshed. It has moved into our collective memory. The memory of Aannoolee can be shared and passed on to the generations of Oromo to come.
Now since 2015, the Oromiyaa wide non-violent unarmed is underway demanding independence. Again, the crime committed at Aannoolee against the innocent men, women and children is back. This time in a form of more dangerous and more deadly than at Aannoolee. This means, the mutilation of hands and breasts at Aannoolee has been transformed into war of Oromiyaa wide genocide—politically motivated slaughter. Today, the killings of non-violent Oromo men, women, and children including pregnant women with their unborn baby are unparalleled in the history of the Ethiopian empire. The Tigrayan fascist regime has been waging a war of Oromo extermination. Its purpose is and has been to extinct the Oromo people. For this, it has planned, organized and implementing genocidal extermination of the Oromo people. Its concentration camps and terrors have already swallowed hundreds of thousands of its Oromo victims. It has categorized the Oromo women, youths and children as enemies to be liquidated by terror and slaughter.
We oftentimes say, never again to genocide in Oromiyaa. We say, the seeds of Aannolee against women, girls and boys must not be allowed to sprout again in Oromiyaa. And yet, it has already sprouted; violence is again engulfed Oromiyaa; violence of genocide is now consuming Oromo men, women, girls and children. What is clear is, today the Tigrayan fascist regime has re-constructed and renewed Menelik II’s crimes at Aannoolee against non-violent peaceful Oromo women and children and implementing it Oromiyaa wide. This time, not by mutilating hands of men and breasts of women, but by physically annihilating men, women, children and including pregnant women. The plain truth is that the Tigrayan fascist regime has turned the peaceful, non-violent and unarmed Oromo resistance into the bloodiest of all times-killing hundreds of thousands of men, women, youths and children. The blood and tears of the Oromo women and children have turned Oromiyaa into the rivers of blood. It is time for all of us to wake up to this clear and present danger of genocide that the Tigrayan fascist regime is committing against our people and it is time to put an end to it.
The way forward
We must implement five important pillar of struggle in order to liberate our country from the Tigrayan fascist occupation. These pillar are as follow:
Pillar I: the Oromo patriotic forces, nationalists, and revolutionaries must unity and fight against occupation;
Pillar II: uphold the clear objective, clear goal, and clear mission of the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF);
Pillar III: Totally reject the dangerous political poison to the Oromo body politics as promoted by the opportunist pro Ethiopian empire revisionist Oromo nationals in the formation of AFD, PAFD, and ODF to establish “Transitional government of Ethiopia” or “Democratization of Ethiopian Empire”, or “federalization of the empire” or under whatever sheep’s new clothing they may come. The alliance itself is not a genuine alliance. It is simply disingenuous alliance. It is unprincipled alliance. Hence, it is the Oromo national liberation struggle crippling politics at worst. Here are the reasons: our interests do not converge. We do not have shared goal. Our goals collide; clash. We have conflicting interests. The identity of our interests are different. We are pursuing different political paths — the OLF’s path is for independence, while AFD, PAFD, ODF’s path is to maintain the Ethiopian empire. The alliance is unprincipled alliance. Principled alliance must be born out of struggle. The purpose of honest Alliance must be to convince the enemy to leave the colonies so as to let each colonized nation choose its own future . Its aim should not to establish “Transitional government with occupying power.” On the contrary, to fool ourselves into believing that "democratization,” “federalization,” or “Transitional government” of Ethiopia is the same as the liberation of Oromiyaa is a grave mistake with consequence of next wave of genocidal implications for our people. Our first obligation is to ourselves. This means, our first obligation is to secure total independence of Oromiyaa from occupation. For this, we need objective unity; we need organizational unity. However, making alliance with alien organizations by avoiding unity with Oromo nationalists’ political organizations is a political scandal. Worst of all, calling upon the Tigrayan fascist regime that has been committing genocide against the Oromo people to establish “Transitional government of Ethiopia” with is a treason against the Oromo people. Such is equivalent to aiding and comforting the enemy. The “current Ethiopian government” that is called-upon “to establish transitional government of Ethiopia with” is the enemy of the Oromo people. Then our second obligation is either to make a voluntary new political arrangement in the form of alliance or union or confederation or Commonwealth with the nations and nationalities in the Ethiopian empire on the basis of common interests or choose to remain as independent and sovereign state of Oromiyaa—a member of United Nations as stated in the political program of the OLF. This choice is to be made by the Oromo people alone after the restoration of independence to Oromiyaa.
The Peoples’ Alliance for freedom and Democracy (OLF, ONLF, SLF and some candidates of AFD)
It stated its political position as: “Finally, the Peoples’ Alliance for freedom and Democracy (AFD) calls on all concerned parties, including the current government of Ethiopia, the representatives of all nations and nationalities in Ethiopia with the facilitation of the international community to seize this opportunity and hold a comprehensive conference to resolve the existing dysfunctional political and social dilemmas confronting the Ethiopian Empire.”
The Peoples’ Alliance for Freedom and Democracy (PAFD)
Its political statement reads as: “Finally, the PAFD calls on all concerned parties, including the current government of Ethiopia, the representatives of all nations and nationalities in Ethiopia, with the facilitation of the international community, to seize this opportunity and hold a comprehensive conference to create a broader roadmap to thereby resolve the enormous problems confronting the Ethiopian Empire state.”
Leaders and members of the Oromo Democratic Front (ODF)
ODF is a splinter group from the OLF to struggle for Ethiopian citizenship. It is a collections of pro Ethiopian individuals. It is an organization that does not believe in establishment of sovereign and independent Oromiyaa. It is for this, the Oromo nationals in both in AFD, PAFD and ODF weakened the OLF; split it; encamped OLA; decimated the OLA and avoided the formation of unity of Oromo patriotic forces, nationalists and revolutionaries. Such actions are undertaken to diminish the values of hopes, aspirations, and dreams of our people for independence. The Oromo members in AFD, PAFD and ODF are those who encamped the OLA and abandoned the objective, the goal and mission of the Oromo struggle. It is important, therefore, to remove all pro Ethiopian “leaderships” from the position of leaderships and allow the new generation of Oromo nationalists in Oromiyaa to assume leadership of the Oromo national liberation struggle.
Pillar IV: Establish Central command national leadership based in Oromiyaa from Oromo nationalist new generation. Without such leadership, it is impossible to successfully lead this national liberation struggle to independence. Furthermore, in order to defeat the fascist Tigrayan regime and render its reactionary allies impotent, we must have a truly revolutionary perspective informed by concepts of revolutionary national liberation struggle, a liberation front without such a perspective will fail to defeat the enemy.
Pilar V: Strengthen the Oromo Liberation Army (OLA). It is important to rebuild the Oromo Liberation Army (OLA) as a superior mighty force, both in quantity and quality in order to protect the population and secure liberation. This enables our people to drive out the Tigrayan fascist regime out of Oromiyaa and establish the independent Democratic Republic of Oromiyaa.
All of the pillar need to go hand-in-hand simultaneously. They are the burning question of today. The blood of Harmaa fi Harka muraa at Aannoolee, the blood at Calanqoo, Azule and the blood of so many millions of Oromo martyrs over a century and the blood of Oromo men, women and children today is not in vain. They sacrificed and still scarifying their lives for the liberation of Oromiyaa and their people, not for “democrazation of Ethiopia’ or “federalization of Ethiopia” or “establishment of Transitional government of Ethiopia.” What is clear is this: Oromiyaa can only be liberated with the blood and sacrifices of Oromo men, women and children. For this, today the Oromo people are united from across Oromiyaa- from south to north, from west to east and center to break down the wall of colonial occupation together. Urban, cites, towns, villages and countryside are all united into a single whole against the genocidal fascist Tigrayan regime despite the propaganda of AFD, PAFD and ODF to establish “Transitional government” with it to maintain the unity of the Ethiopian colonial empire.
The causes of problem of the Oromo struggle has been and is internal, not external. Nobody seems to talk about internal problem that has been paralyzing the Oromo struggle. The problem is the current leaderships. They are not in the battlefield of struggle. All of them are in exile. The exiles cannot liberate Oromiyaa. Hence, the solution to this problem is to remove these current leaderships of Oromo political organizations who rely upon external forces, because they won’t get the Oromo people through the darkest days. Reliance on outside forces puts national unity, organizational unity, the country, and the national struggle at risk. We must avoid reliance upon external powers. In order to avoid this, we all need mental strength-the inner strength. Mental strength comes from having clear vision, clear objective, clear goal and clear mission and from reliance upon ourselves, our people, and the resources of our country and it does not come from external powers or from heaven. The Oromo people have already shown the unity and are fighting in unity without reliance upon others. It is time to learn from our people. Oromo of all ages and sexes are united. In unity, they are making the enemy to shiver; to lose hope of controlling and raping Oromiyaa and making the ground under its feet to shake. It is already decayed and declining. Indeed, its fall and demise is coming soon. The Oromo people are confident and have faith in themselves; and have confidence and faith in the capacity, willingness and commitment of their sons and daughters to fight and liberate their country-Oromiyaa.
Oromiyaa Shall Be Free!