As you all know, a wave of protest has been observed across most universities in Oromia region in response to the new integrated master plan unveiled by government operational in the capital Addiss Ababa and five Oromiya special zone administrations in the outskirt. Following the announcement, massive rallies against the plan were held in several universities. Protesters were holding different slogans advocating, “Government hands off”. In another event, government unleashed security forces to keep an eye on and react accordingly. The impasse pertaining to the plan ultimately devoured lives of several citizens and public asset suffered a huge loss as police responded with live bullets to crackdown.
There are mounting evidences that clues the deadly violence in Haramaya and Dire Dawa was ethnically motivated. The most shocking tragedy was the Amhara and tigray nationalities were specifically targeted. You may have brought into picture such an incident ever but get relaxed that the diverse form of malice and wickedness in man is uncountable.
Eyewitnesses revealed that students were beaten relentlessly hard by regional police forces. Temporary standoff observed between federal and regional police forces when access for federal denied by the regional. In the middle of the face off, defense force broken through asked nobody but veto.
A text message reported to have been sent via cell phone with in a circle of oromo students. Warning notification for Oromo nationals was also put up, transcribed in Oromiffa, not to watch the football match (Chelsea versus Atletico Madrid) where a blast went off to kill one, and leave many others injured.
Exclusively, an inflammatory lyric was heard, “The University, the president and the police force belongs to us!” meant ‘’Yegna Yegna!” which pumped fuel on the tension. Some students believed stranded in different pockets within the compound and presumed dead amidst chaos as leaked by students who fled campus. Surprisingly enough, no student was allowed to speak in other languages than Oromofa, fully hypocritical! I am afraid that this might trickle down to other universities out of Oromiya region and vengeance may erupt in a reciprocal fashion.
Churches and commercial banks in Dire Dawa and Harar cities were unusually overwhelmed by students receiving money from friends and families. University compounds here turned in to Ghost villages due student’s exodus as police ramped up around. What makes the issue paradoxical was why the appeal begins to defend plan-induced displacements and infringements of Oromo people and finally end up with discriminated assault?
God bless brave Oromo students who gallantly crucified themselves to protect and get non-Oromo friends out of campus safely. The generosities of these farsighted compatriots and the unforgettable harsh time grappling with catastrophic risk have been extraordinarily praised and enthusiastically applauded by students and the people of Ethiopia.
In an attempt to settle issue in dialogue, Dire Dawa administration officials payed visit to the Dire Dawa University but succeed only in failure. The reason was simple, representative of rebellion students, “Derartu” allegedly, former member spew out in front of officials and found reluctant to talk unless friends in detention are released without precondiion. This in turn sparked anger off and angry guards turned her in seconds upside down to coil and sandwich in a mud at a gunpoint till swoon and grow fainter.
The migrant students who fled to Dire Dawa Medihanialem church left for campus on Wed 7 May 2014. I solicit the prompt cooperation of Dire Dawa people who unreservedly provided food and shelter. Students were escorted by Dire Dawa security forces on their way back. The deal between Haramaya university officials and migrant students was brokered by Dire Dawa administration EPRDF office representative. For the benefit of the doubt, panel of experts were sent to the university with the aim of assessing security landscape.
The team-expressed grievance over what has happened and offended by the anarchism reigned in. EPRDF representative vowed to launch a probe into the case using party structure to bring elements to justice.
On one accord, it is by and large the responsibility of government to aware people at every level and should practically involve the people in any intervention endeavors. On the other accord, the information and security force along with its functional system found weak to detect and safeguard innocent civilian citizens and destruction of public assets well in advance. As a result, many people, as I personally would have thought, turned out skeptical that invisible hands behind the scene might have orchestrated the mob.
In general, a serious scrutiny measure by government is reported to have been underway to identify whether the question over the contentious master plan was really claimed from within or without. I is not a big deal whether within or without but it is primarily the duty and responsibility of government to aware people and provide timely information in a transparent way.
Government’s passive reaction to shield victims added momentum to be epicenter of public debate. One might be forgiven to think that it is a preemptive attack and de-facto decapitates potential opposition contenders and has always sought to close the space for any entity that seems to pose threat on government interest. It would be a premature judgment to me to accept the argument at least at this stage but be it an individual or institution, those involved directly or indirectly should face trial and independent investigation team need to verify whether security forces used excessive force or not.
To this end, government is exhorted to show passionate commitment and determination to focus the lens not only outwards but also inward. The news that has been dominating all the TV channels and top stories of public media were performing a clip from the same hymn sheet and script. The effort exerted by government top officials to discuss with different societies and condemning all oppositions in a basket has been a customary experience. Why? It should have been done in a well-defined manner prior to the episode. One of the unhealed chronic diseases of government was never and ever let an ear to the ground but wakes up after the storm. The burden of proof is up to government if otherwise.
In a country, where good governance mess up in terms of high profile corruption scandal and absence of independent democratic institutions is evident and where religious inflammation is fragile, the price we pay to back on truck would be unbearably soaring if once fly into a rage. Be cognizant that despite tremendous surge in economic achievements, the probability of shattering into nothing is still exists.
Analytically speaking, extremely polarized and narrow views are emerging and reflected in post Meles political era. Most people found on the same page regarding the notion that the move is not only an apparent signal to quality deterioration in political leadership but also public trust vacuum is getting wider and wider, the bigger challenge we face off in years to come.
Thus, I presumably assume that the menu of option left to choose is either rush to register successively a two digit economic growth, business as usual, leaving things behind or click political will for new roadmap against the narrow ethnic based federalism to be politically stable, economically strong, socially just and culturally acceptable.
Thanks to the fresh memory of Egypt which validated that lack of vibrant multi party system, absence of strong opposition to rely on, and above all the temperature of masked internal friction within the incumbent could open opportunity to the military topple power through coup d’état.