Is Regime Troops’ Crackdown on Oromo at Irreecha Festival ‘Ethiopian Apartheid Policy’ or ‘Law Enforcement?’

October 6, 2012 (Oromo Press) — On Sunday, September 30, 2012, several million Oromos gathered at Bushoftu’s Hora Arsadi in Central Oromia, southeast of Finfinne to celebrate Irrecha, a national “Thanksgiving” holiday. Of the millions, Ethiopian-cum-Tigire security forces arrested 150 to 200 Oromo persons of all ages and gender and jailed them in Mai’ikelawi (a torture prison in Finfinne) and at other unknown places. The violent mass arrests were accompanied by dehumanizing activities by the “Ethiopian” army and police. Women, girls and men were stripped naked in public of cultural costumes at gunpoint.

The Ethiopian security forces interpreted Oromo cultural outfits as “symbols of Oromo Liberation Front (OLF)” or symbols of “the enemy.” It is wildly crazy that the culture of a whole group of people is equated to OLF to justify attacks.

A lot has been reported on the phenomenon. I am not here to repeat the news, but to put it in perspective. The questions that is rarely asked about recurring yearly crackdown against Oromos based on Oromo ethnicity, culture, language and clothing articles is whether these brutal actions are just accidents of human rights violations or whether they are the continuation of Ethiopian apartheid policy against Oromo bodies and cultures. 

The fact that mass arrests repeatedly occur during Oromo holidays, but do not occur at all during Habesha holidays such as Meskel and Timket, show the current Ethiopian regime, as past ones, follows an apartheid policy against the Oromo people in all spheres of life, including religion, culture, economy and the right to exist.

There were not any collective or individual arrests carried out against members of the ruling ethno-national groups from the Tigire and Amahara during the Habesha new year, and Meskel celebrations just prior to the Ororomo’s Irreecha. Abyssinians freely exercise their collective festivals and celebrations because they own the state. The crackdown at Irreechaa 2012 in Oromia is not a just a mere government interference with Oromian national events, but it is a systematic apartheid policy. Stripping Oromo women and girls naked in public, sending several hundreds to jail , beating festival goers with batons, infiltrating the holy site at Arsadi and policing what kinds of songs the youth sang are premeditated actions that were centrally planned by Ethiopia’s notorious National Security and Intel Service (NSIS).

The so-called federal police, conventional troops and Oromia Police were deployed in hundreds of thousands to terrorize Oromo unarmed civilians. Does such a discrimination happen to Tigreans or Amara when they celebrate their holidays in Finfinne (right in the heart of Oromia) or Mekele? Not at all. They celebrate in complete joy, while Oromos attempt to have one happy holiday is violently disrupted. Habesha are safe to do whatever they want because they control the armed forces. There is no such a thing as Oromia police or troops–all of the troops and security forces belong to the ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front, the engine of which is the Tigire People’s Liberation Front.

–Full Report at Oromo Press