Letter of the Day: Seeking justice for the Oromo people of Ethiopia

 

Tullu Milki, Salale ( North Shawa) Jan 8, 2016
Hawi Fantaye(The Tampa Tribune) — I was born in Ethiopia and came here nine years ago. I am 19, and I go to Hillsborough Community College. I am writing because of the situations going on in Ethiopia.

I don’t know if you are aware, but the Ethiopian government is having a war with its own people. This war has been going on for over 25 years. The ongoing discrimination against the Oromo tribe has become too much to handle. Recently, the Ethiopian government set out a “Master Plan” — expanding the capital and building meaningless buildings that will only benefit the government. Their goal is said to be to develop the country.

Although this seems like a favorable act, there are many things happening behind the scenes due to this master plan. For one thing, farmers in neighboring cities of the capital will be stripped of their land, with no compensation. Ethiopia is known for having vast land for agriculture. Many people rely on farming to support their families. When the government takes the Oromo people’s land with little to no compensation, these people have nothing left. My family is a victim of this land grab.

Recently the government took my grandmother’s land, which was about half an acre. They said they needed to build a road. They gave my grandmother $50 for all the land she lost. My grandmother used to grow crops and sell them in the market to support her grandkids. Now she is struggling and reaching out for help.

These kinds of cases have been going on for years in Ethiopia. This is my ancestors’ land, and it is sad to see it all being taken away.

The Master Plan is just a fraudulent scheme to take the Oromo people’s land. If the government really wanted to develop the country, then it would have worked on other pressing matters. For example, the water system and electricity are horrible in Ethiopia, especially in the Oromo region. There are times when people don’t get water for a whole week. And there are times when electricity is shut down for days and days. Also, there is a huge drought going on in the Oromo region. Instead of working on these issues, the government decides to just ignore the public’s concerns. This shows that the so called Master Plan is not really taking into consideration the Oromo people and what they are losing.

Recently, many university and high school students went on a peaceful protest against the Master Plan. Many students were upset and wanted to show their frustration. With the democratic state that Ethiopia claims to be, peaceful protest should be allowed; after all, we all have the right to protest. Shockingly, the Ethiopian government did not like the protest so they sent out federal soldiers to kill and arrest protesters. There have been over 131 deaths and 3,500-plus arrests in just the past month. There were many people wounded due to the government throwing bombs at its people. When these innocent protesters tried to go to the hospitals, many were denied care and left there to die.

As an Oromo, I am deeply saddened with what is going on in Ethiopia. No government should ever do such cruel acts against its own people. This is not a democracy!

The Ethiopian government is controlled by the Tigray people, who account for only 15 percent of Ethiopia’s population. The Tigray region of Ethiopia is one of the most successful — industrialized — due to the government supporting its own tribe of people. The Oromo people account for more than 50 percent of Ethiopia’s population, yet they are the most discriminated against. They are seen as being inferior.

I would like to raise awareness about what is going on in Ethiopia. I want to get some justice for my people. They have been treated wrong for many years, and it is time for them to prevail and be free.

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