On August 27, 2011, Oromo political leaders, Obbo Bekele Gerba and Obbo Olbana Lelisa, were thrown into prison by the TPLF regime, which has militarily occupied Oromiyaa since 1991.
Two of the estimated 20,000 Oromo nationalist political prisoners in the Ethiopian empire, Obbo Bekele Gerba was the deputy Chairman of the opposition Oromo Federalist Democratic Movement (OFDM), and Obbo Olbana Lelisa a leader in the Oromo People’s Congress party (OPC) at the time of their arrests.
Obbo Bekele Gerba and Obbo Olbana Lelisa were thrown into prison after meeting with an Amnesty International delegation, which was also expelled from the Empire afterwards. Please read here about Amnesty International’s report about the two prisoners of consciousness. The Amnesty International delegation was in the country to collect information for its report, which was later published in Dec. 2011: “Dismantling Dissent – Intensified Crackdown in Ethiopia”
The two were then joined in October 2011 by another 100 Oromo political prisoners, including leaders and activists of the Oromo civic organization, the Macha-Tulama Self-Help Association (MTSHA), which was afterwards closed down for yet another round.
According to an October 12, 2011 report by the Macha-Tulama Association, USA, INC., a US-based civic organization with a similar name as the one currently banned in Oromiyaa:
“The Macha-Tulama high officials, Mr. Laggese Deti Dhaba, Mr. Mulugeta Riqitu and Sisay Sarbesa, are all held incommunicado at the Maikelawi Torture Center in Finfinnee as of today. Mr. Dhaba was the Secretary General of Macha-Tulama Self-help Association for the year 2002- 2003. Mr. Dhaba has also served as the Chairman of History and Culture Committee of the association. He is a cultural expert of Oromo society, and hence imprisoning and attacking him are tantamount to destroying the Oromo cultural resources and foundations. Similarly, his colleagues, who have been imprisoned with him, have deep interests in promoting hte Oromo history and culture. They are Mr. Mulugeta Rikitu, School Director and Board Member of MTSHA; and Mr. Sisay Serbesa, 3rd-Year student at the Addis Ababa [Finfinne] University.”
Following the banning of the Macha-Tulama Self-Help Association, the oldest independent Oromo civic organization with the objective of promoting Oromo history and culture, the Voice of Oromo Liberation (VOL-SBO) carried the following editorial:
THE FORGOTTEN POLITICAL PRISONERS
In one of his recent reports, VOA’s Peter Heinlein reported about the forgotten case of the Oromo nationalist political prisoners:
“Almost forgotten has been the case of more than 100 ethnic Oromo political activists. Prosecutors have alleged they were involved with the outlawed Oromo Liberation Front, or OLF.
Oromos are the largest of Ethiopia’s ethnic groups, and the defendants include top leaders of the two main Oromo opposition parties, as well as former members of parliament.”
The same VOA report has also documented the decision passed by the TPLF regime to not address the Oromo nationalist political prisoners as “Oromo” – to strip off their national identity.
VIDEO: BEKELE GERBA ON LAND-GRAB AND OTHER RELATED TOPICS
In this previously-taped video (during the so-called 2010 elections), Obbo Bekele Gerba, currently one of the ~20,000 Oromo political prisoners in the Ethiopian Empire, speaks about land ownership, land use practices and their adverse environmental impacts, which are totally neglected by the TPLF regime.
In the video, Obbo Bekele Gerba also describes the on-going land-grab activities and their impact on citizenship. Based on land ownership, Obbo Bekele Gerba categorizes citizenship levels in the Empire into four classes: the first-class citizens are those who are in power to give away land; the second-class citizens are those who receive land; the third-class are those who are reduced to observer-roles of such illicit transactions; the fourth-class are those whose land is taken away from them by force. Describing the illegal transfer of land, Obbo Bekele Gerba says, “land owners are reduced into security guards of their previous properties.”
It’s to be noted that Atse Meles Zenawi, the head of the TPLF regime, once outlined his strategy of land-grabbing as being only focused on the non-Abyssinian parts of the Empire – such as Oromia, Gambella, the South, the Afar and Benishangul/Gumuz. Thus, the third-class and fourth-class citizens (as described in the video by Obbo Bekele Gerba) all come from the historically southern parts of the Empire (namely, Oromia, Gambella, the South, the Afar and Benishangul/Gumuz).
THE ASSASA MASSACRE
Continuing its military occupation of Oromiyaa and interference in Oromo people’s religions, the TPLF security apparatus killed at least four individuals in Assasa, Oromiyaa, on April 27, 2012. Among those killed was a 13-year-old boy, Musaa Gabii, who was a student at the local Islamic school; others were a tailor, a farmer and a day-laborer. The list of those detained in connection with the Assasa incident was published by the Oromian Human Rights and Justice Council.
The Ethiopian Empire is overall the prison house of the Oromo nation. Ever since they were colonized by Abyssinian rulers in the last decades of the 19th century, the Oromo people have been persecuted by successive Abyssinian-Ethiopian regimes: the restored Solomonic monarchy, the Communist dictatorship, and now the TPLF colonial-Apartheid regime of Atse Meles Zenawi. The ongoing persecution of Oromo nationalists is part of the overall policy of the Abyssinian-Ethiopian empire-state to politically, culturally and economically subjugate the Oromo people, who are currently struggling for the right to self-determination to break free from the colonial yoke of the Abyssinian-Ethiopian empire-state.
Campaign to FREE Bekele Gerba and Olbana Lelisa, and all Oromo political prisoners in the Ethiopian Empire, and seek JUSTICE for the Assasa Massacre of April 27, 2012.
– Bekele Gerba and Olbana Lelisa have been in prison since August 27, 2011 – together with former and current leadership, and activists of the Macha-Tulama Self-Help Association.
– Since the April 27, 2012 Assasa Massacre, TPLF regime’s officials, who ordered the shootings, have not been brought to justice.
Free free to use the following campaign posters on Facebook and other social media outlets.