Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Ali Bira & Kemer Yousuf: Traitors or Nationalists?

By Gurraacho Silgaa

Ali Bira and Kemer Yousuf need no introduction to Oromo communities around the world. Living in exile for over two decades, they have both been compared to Maria Makeba of South Africa for stirring hopes of freedom with their music among millions in Oromia and beyond. Music being a central part of the Oromo struggle against past and current oppressive Ethiopian regimes, Ali and Kemer acted as constant reminders of the events in their homeland.
But unlike Maria Makeba, these icons of the Oromo nation have decided to reconcile with their people’s enemy – the Ethiopian regime – before the freedom they once sung for and raised hope about among the Oromo arrived.

Ali decided to reconcile with the TPLF government in September 2005 following Ethiopian elections in the same year and while the world was in the middle of condemning the TPLF government for stealing elections by intimidating, detaining and murdering hundreds Oromos and others.

Kemer followed suite three years later and flew back to perform in Finfinnee (Addis Abeba) a couple of days ago (November 2008) hot on the heels of mass arrests, “disappearances” and mistreatment of Oromo nationals (Read Amnesty Intenational Urgent Action Request Here) including his popular fellow singer Zerhun Wedajo whose where about is unknown.

Much has been said on and off the Internet about Ali Bira’s and Kemer Yousuf’s visits to Ethiopia to perform there. To my knowledge, not since Leencoo Lataa’s visit to Ethiopia (purportedly to have Ibsa Gutema released from TPLF dungeon) has any Oromo’s visit there generated such a heated debate among our people. Opponents have painted them as traitors and sell-outs. The old adage “everyone can be bought” is heard a lot in reference to the two singers. Supporters, on the other hand, see no issues or concerns with what they have done and argue that their critics’ concerns are misplaced.

Why such a controversy over two singers’ visits to, and performance in, their home land?
No serious person can dispute Ali’s quasi-legendary status when it comes to Oromo music. That he got Oromo music going when the going was tough needs no reminding for any serious observer of Oromo cultural renaissance. Neither is Kemer’s stature as a popular and very much loved Oromo singer is contested by anyone I know. Ali’s and Kemer’s love for the Oromo language and music is beyond dispute. That much is known and beyond debate as far as I am concerned.

Ali Bira had won some ethnic music award, along with other African singers in Canada, in or around 1996. The awards were given out to the winners by ambassadors (to Canada) of their respective native countries. Ali is said to have refused to receive it from the then Ethiopian ambassador, and was given the award by the then mayor of Toronto. I have checked out this story with brothers living in Toronto who confirmed it as accurate.

Rumor has it that Kemer Yousuf was offered hundreds of thousands of dollars by the TPLF government on various occasions to return to, and perform in, Ethiopia which he rebuffed bluntly, often disdainfully. It is said that he refused to succumb to financial enticements by the powers that be in Ethiopia mindful of the political benefit the current rulers of the country would rip from his appearance there.

That was then and this is now.
Inconsistent with their prior abhorrence for the current rulers of the country (and their cronies – the OPDO), Ali and Kemer decided to return to Ethiopia and perform for their former enemies. After having successfully resisted TPLF advances for many years, Ali succumbed in 2005 and Kemer in November 2008.

The official reason for Ali’s performance there was for inauguration of “Gada Convention Center” in Adaamaa, Oromia. Kemer’s official reason for doing so, according to the Toronto Star, is "The system changed, the people changed, I changed," However, no mention of whether the system he condemned for the last seventeen years changed for better or for worse. As Oromo politicians in the country, the likes of Bulcha Damaksa and Marara Gudina attest, the Oromo situation has worsened even further over the last decade under the current Ethiopian regime. Regardless, “the central government [of Ethiopia] is helping to arrange a six-concert homecoming tour [for Kemer] that opens Dec. 7 at the East African country's largest indoor venue – Addis Ababa's 20,000-seat Millennium Hall.” And Kemer is taking advantage of it to make some bucks. Read Here

The central issue, however, is whether Ali’s and Kemer’s performances there, particularly at these critical times for the rulers of that country, impacts (positively or negatively) on the Oromo struggle for liberation and/or life expectance of the regime. It is this issue that needs to be addressed. This is not without reason. It is because of Ali’s prominence, reputation and the legendary status conferred on him by many. Although he is not considered a legend, the same goes for Kemer Yousuf. As a consequence, their fans hold them to a higher standard. Needless to say, it is fair to scrutinize public figures more closely than the average person.

This is not about Ali or Kemer the person per se. It is about Ali Bira or Kemer Yousuf the public figures and the role models for many. It is about all Oromo public figures – politicians and non-politicians alike – and how their association with enemies of the Oromo people impacts on the Oromo struggle for liberation.

After having rebuffed Wayyannee’s approach for many years, why have Ali and Kemer changed their minds at these particular times – in 2005 when TPLF and OPDO were fighting for their very lives and today when mass arrests of Oromo nationals is a daily occurrences? Why have they stopped feeling their people’s pain and suffering? In the case of Kemer, where is the solidarity with his “disappeared” fellow Oromo singer Zerhun Wedajo and the many Oromo nationals suffering in TPLF prisons at the present time? If they were so desperate to see their aging parents, as they both claim, why did they not slip in and out of the country quietly? In fact, Kemer was offered an all expenses paid rendezvous with his parents in the Middle East by Oromo nationalists which he refused to accept. Were they so desperate for money that they decided to perform for enemies of their people, or do they not consider OPDO and TPLF enemies of their people anymore? If the later, what has changed? Why would OPDO (TPLF) pay so much to have Ali and Kemer perform for them? Will their performance there contribute to prolonging or shortening the life of this regime which has wrecked havoc on the Oromo people for the last seventeen years? How much Oromo support will their popularity gain (lose) the TPLF government? What message does their performing for OPDO/TPLF send to our people back home and in the Diaspora – particularly to those who view them as role models? Will it encourage them to carry on the fight, or it will give them that “things are changing for the better” feeling and fool them in to relaxing their guards? It is these and other similar legitimate questions that propelled many compatriots in to this debate. I don’t believe any of their critics hate them but would like to know whether these larger than life personalities in Oromo music have sold their people’s struggle for liberation for a few bucks.

Their critics are concerned that (1) Their onetime heroes appear to have sold their souls to enemies of their people for the opportunity to earn some bucks (2) Their performing for OPDO/Wayyaanee will contribute to prolonging the life of the regime (3) Their association with OPDO/Wayyaanee will send the wrong message to those who look up to them as their role model – if it is ok for Ali and Kemer to perform for the enemy of our people then why is it wrong to support OPDO/TPLF? (4) Their performing for OPDO/Wayyanee has the potential of demoralizing, or setting a bad example for, other Oromo artists - inside and outside the country – engaged in agitating our people to fight to the end through their music.

Source: Oromo Affairs.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Speak Up! Speak Out! Against Injustice NOW!!! Gadaa

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Shanee Asmaraa heera motummaa Wayyaanee fudhattee jalatti buluun hojjechuuf mallatteessuun mirkanaaye.

Akka Voice of Amerika sagantaan Afaan Oromoo Sadaasa 14 bar 2008 namoota gartuu Wayyaanee fi Shanee Asmaraa walitti fiduun mallaattoo raawwachiisan dhiheessuun ifa godhetti; gartuun lameenuu waliigaltee irra ga’uun mirkanaa’ee jira.

Baatiiwwan kudha Jahaan dura maanguddootaan akka filaman kan of ibsan “Gartuu jaarummaa” kan ofiin jedhan namoonni sadii Shanee Asmaraa ti fi Mallas gidduu marmaaruun kan dalagaa jiran, namoonni sadii maqaan isaanii VOAn eerame, Luba Ittafaa Goobanaa, Ambaasadder Birhaanuu Dinqaa fi Obbo Abarraa Tolaa yoo ta’an, hojii gartuulee lameen kana walitti fiduu kan eegalan jaarsooliin edda filatamanii ta’uu eeranii jiru.

Garutuun jaarsummaa ofiin jedhu kun Qaama lameen biratti, jechuun Shanee Asmaraa fi Mootummaa wayyaanee biratti eehama haata’uu fi amanamummaa argachuu isaanii mirkaneessanii jiru.

Durataa’aa maanguddoolii kanaa ta’uu kan of bisan Luba Ittafaa Goobanaa akka VOAf ibsanitti dhimma kana tuta oduutiif ibsuun waa lamaaf ta’uu dubbatan jedha VOAn.

Tokkooffaan dhiheenya kana Finfinnee keessatti maanguddoota Oromoo walga’ii edda geggeessanii booda, biyya keessattis ta’ee biyya alaa keessatti “jette jetteen dhugaa jiru faallessu waan faca’eef dhugaa jiru ibsuuf yoo ta’u;”
sababiin lammafaan immoo kanatti aansee kan dhufuu jiruu fi haala qabatamaa tokko irra kan hinga’in garuu, dhimmi isaa deemsa irra kan jiru ta’uu ibsan jedha VOAn.

Haala amma jiru akkas jechuun dubbatanii jiru Luba Ittafaa goobanaa, "Shaneen akka gara mareetti dhufuu fi adda addummaan jiru yeroo ammaa mariin furuu danda’u jennee waan amanneef maanguddootiin nu waliin jiran illee jabeessanii waan itti amananiif kana tolchuuf yaalaa jirra." “Hanga kun ta’utti immoo sochii keenya itti fufna.”

Karaa nagaan gam lameen walitti fiduuf karaan jalqabame kun rakkisaa akka ta’e kan hin dhokisin maanguddooti kun jedha VOAn gam lameenuu haasofsiisuudhaan baatii amajjii bar 2008 magaalaa Amsterdam keessatti hoggana Shanee Qinijjiti Obbo Daawud Ibsaan waliigaltee mallatteessuu isaanii ibsan.

Akka waliigaltee kanaatti Shaneen akka Heera mootummaa wayyaanee fudhatee, mootummaa Ethiopiya waliin mar’achuuf fedhii kan qabu ta’uu; maanguddoota kanaaf ibsee jira. Jedhuun mirkaneessa VOAn.

Akka maanguddoonni kun dubbatanitti jedha VOAn Walga’ii Amsterdam kana irratti Obbo Daaud Ibsaa fi Obbo Tamaam Yasuuftu argame.

Kana malees waliigaltee kana gara koree isa guddaatti geessuudhaan kan irratti mar’atan ta’uu nuuf ibsanii jiruu jedhu maanguddootiin kun. Jedha VOAn.

Gareen maanguddootii kun gara biyyaatti edda deebi’ee booda, sadarkaa irra ga’e Mallas Zeenaawiif ibsuudhaan deebii Mallas turban lamaaf eegaa akka ture dubtan jedha VOAn.

Dhuma irrattis yaada maanguddootaa Mallas akka sitmatee fi marii geggeessuufis qophaawoo ta’uu isaa dubbatanii jiru.

Hogganni ABO yeroo ammaa addaan qoodamee utuu jiruu gam tokko qofaan nagaa buusuuf mariin mootummaan godhu hirdhuu hin ta’uu? Jechuun gaaffii gaazexessitoota biraa kan dhihaate yoo ta’u; jedha VOAn Maanguddoonnis deebii kennaniin; "gareen Obbo Daawud Ibsaatiin hogganamu hawaasa addunyaa biratti beekkannoo akka qabuu ibsanii; qaamni hogganaa inni kaanis deemsa jalqabame kana waan deeggaruuf gufuun uummu hin jiraatu" jedhanii jiru dha VOAn.

Akkuma beekamu murni shanee Qinijjit yeroo adda addaatti Mallasiitti jaarusummaa biyyoota adda addaa ergachuun harka kennatee biyyatti galuuf kadhachaa turuun isaan waan yaadatamu dha. Gochaa isaa kan Oromoo dhuksuuf tattaafatu murni obbo Daawud hawwiin isaanii maqaa ABOn harka kennachuun utuu bakka hin ga'iif oduun akkasii dhaga'uutti waan gammadan hin fakkaatu.
Guutuu isaa dhaggeeffachuun Kunoo:- http://www.voanews.com/real/voa/africa/orom/orom1730a.ram

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Oromo parliamentarian appeals to International Community

Letter from Member of Ethiopian Parliament Mr. Bulcha Demeksa, Chairman of opposition party Oromo Federalist Democratic Movement (OFDM)

The Government has announced on [its state-owned] TV this evening that it has arrested many Oromos in connection with terrorist activities. OFDM can never never cooperate with OLF because OFDM is openly and legally carrying on political activities within the framework of the Ethiopian Constitution. We have evidence that the Government is preparing the ground to massively arrest and detain peaceful Oromos including law-abiding OFDM members. We do not understand the purpose of such a move because we know that the Government is fully aware of our activities which are entirely legal and political in nature.

The Government wants to intimidate and silence OFDM. OFDM has been speaking in Parliament on national issues such as famine, inflation, ethnic conflicts, etc.. and has even called on the Government to invite the Opposition to meet it at a round table discussion to find solutions for national problems.

What the Government has announced tonight is absolutely untrue as regards to what they said about OFDM. It's a case of forcibly silencing a political party by implicating it in criminal activities for which it is absolutely impossible to find legal evidence. Of course, trumped up evidence can always be fabricated by a Government.

I, the leader of OFDM, have spent much of my life working for peace and international cooperation within the United Nations System. I could never head an organization which has anything to do with illegal activities, and EPRDF is fully aware of this, but wants to punish OFDM for speaking out honestly and forcefully always with the intention of the progress and growth of Ethiopia.

The arrest of Bekele Jirata who has been detained for the last eight days without having any visit by his lawyer, family and priest, is evidence that EPRDF has the intention of punishing unrelenting Opposition members, even though they are impeccably legal.

OFDM appeals to the Government, the International Community and the peoples of Ethiopia to support OFDM at all times and assure everybody that OFDM has never had any illegal intentions or done anything illegal by way of associating itself with OLF or any other group which operates outside of the Ethiopian Constitutional framework.

Thank you.

Bulcha DemeksaChairman, OFDM

Friday, November 07, 2008

Ethiopian government accused of mass arrest campaign under cover of terror plot

Following last weeks arrest of its leader, the Oromo Federalist Democratic Movement’s(OFDM) chairman on Wednesday has accused the Ethiopian government of waging a mass arrest against ethnic-Oromo opposition supporters in Addis Ababa using what it says “terror plot and terror links” as a cover.

"Today we have confirmed the arrest of at least 15 ethnic Oromo opposition supporters during the past 48 hours alone in the capital using the so called terror links and terror plot as a cover," OFDM chairman and MP Bulcha Demeksa told Sudan Tribune by telephone.

"I am sure this number will be at least in dozens over the night when our assessment continues by tomorrow," he added.

The so called it self “Ethiopian government” TPLF/woyyanee authorities warned Wednesday of a possible plot to carry out terrorist acts in the country. "The National Intelligence Security Service has received credible information about an impending terrorist plot to be carried out inside Ethiopia," TPLF said in a statement.

A series of bomb blasts have rocked the Ethiopian capital this year. Four people were killed and other 24 injured last September, when a bomb explosion inside a bar in Addis Ababa; and in May, a bomb went off on a minibus near the foreign ministry, killing six people, including a US national.

The so called Ethiopia routinely accuses the neighbouring Eritrea along with Oromo and Ogaden rebel movements.

The opposition chief said that Meles Zinawi is exploiting "terror plot" as "modern cover" to continue indefinitely the large scale abuses against the constitutional rights of the Oromo nationals.

"It is also being used as a weapon to silence the Oromo people for fears that the Oromo majority could dominate the political roles of the nation," he further said.

When asked if last weeks arrest against OFDM’s general secretary, Bekelle Jirata, has for sure connections with terrorists as government’s allegation is saying, Bulcha said

"I am more than 100 % sure that there is no way he has links to terrorists. He is an absolute gentleman" he said

"Bereket Simons (special adviser to PM Meles) allegation was so shameful and a total fabrication" he rejects.

“We call to the international community to run a separate investigation” he added
“It has been 6 days since our member is arrested by government and according to Ethiopian law he was supposed to come before court in 48 hours but this didn’t happen”

“He is also deprived of seeing his lawyer and his family. What else could clearly prove you that constitutional rights of citizens are openly being violated by government itself other than this?” Bulcha replies the question by a question.


Thursday, November 06, 2008

Wayyaanee continued massive arrest of prominent Oromos

The so called him self "Ethiopian government" TPLF/Wayyaanee continued massive arrest of prominent Oromos.

The following prominent Oromos have been taken from their homes and sent to detention centers agin.

Those Arrested From Finfinnee (Addis Ababa)

1. Mr, Asafa Dibaba a teacher of the Afan Oromo language from Finfinnee (A.A) university,
2. Mr, Kabbada Borana, the manager of Hilton Hotel,
3. Mr, Nugusee Dibaba, a known college student,
4. Mr, Fiqadu Jalqaba, a known college student,
5.Mr, Bakala Nagari, a business man,
6. Mr, Dajana Dhaba, a business man.

Those Arrested From Nekemte, Western Oromia

The following Oromos have been arrested from Western Oromia, Eastern Wollegga Zone, Nekemte town.

1. Mr Dastaa Kitiil , brother of Isheetuu Kitil, owner of Hawi Hotel
2. Mr Warqinaa, a teacher at Dallo school
3. Mr Namoomsaa Warqinaa, a teacher at Bakkee Jamaa school
4. Mr Geetahuun an employee of Wallagga University
5. Mr Balayii Kormee a worker of Nekemte Hospital Pharmacy.
6. Mr Kabbada Bultii, a business man.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Afan Oromo TV Staff member arrested, house confiscated.

Woyanne regime security agents have arrested a staff member of ETV's Afan Oromo TV program, Wzr. Lelise Wodajo.

The Woyanne security agents picked up Wzr. Lalise from her place of work, Ethiopian Television (ETV), and took her to Central (Maikelawi) Investigation on October 30, 2008, at noon.

The security agents also confiscated Wzr. Lalsie's house, leaving her four children, Jitu, Bonsen, and Bethlehem, homeless

TPLF arrests OFDM general secretary obbo Bekele Jirata.

Oromo Federalist Democratic Movement (OFDM) confirmed its general secretary Mr. Bekele Jirata was picked up on Thursday as he was going to his Addis Ababa office in what it called an abuse of rights.

"He was working hand-in-glove with terrorists," Bereket Simon, special advisor to Meles, told Reuters.

"It is proven he had links with groups like the OLF." Said Berket to Reuters.
Opposition groups say they are constantly harassed by the government despite operating within the law.

"At this time, we are unable to have any meaningful dialogue with the authorities who ordered the detention," OFDM chairman Bulcha Demeksa told Reuters in an e-mail.

"The constitution and other human rights laws would have been our guarantor, but...this is not the case in Ethiopia."

The OFDM in April accused the government of intimidation as voters went to the polls for the first time since post-election violence in 2005 killed 199 civilians.

The party said most of their candidates in the April local elections had been threatened and forced to pull out of the race. They ran less than two percent of their originally proposed candidates.