News / Africa

    Ethiopia's Oromos Tread Warily Amid Anti-government Protests

    Ethiopian migrants, all members of the Oromo community of Ethiopia living in Malta, protest in Valletta against the Ethiopian regime's plan to evict Oromo farmers to expand Ethiopia's capital, Addis Ababa, Dec. 21, 2015.
    Ethiopian migrants, all members of the Oromo community of Ethiopia living in Malta, protest in Valletta against the Ethiopian regime's plan to evict Oromo farmers to expand Ethiopia's capital, Addis Ababa, Dec. 21, 2015.
    Marthe van der Wolf

    Schools are closed, businesses have just reopened after being closed for almost a week, and there is tension in Ginchi, Ethiopia, one of the first towns where the Oromo people began protesting last month against a plan to expand the capital, Addis Ababa.

    Police are on the main road in Ginchi, which is about 80 kilometers west of Addis Ababa. Interviews have to be conducted on the basis of anonymity and on the outskirts of the town.

    A waitress says that despite the reopening of the cafe where she works, life is not back to normal yet: She says that there is not an official curfew, but that young people risk being randomly detained if they are out in the evening.

    The most recent protest in Ginchi was last weekend, after a funeral. Citizens said security forces killed three people before the protest took place.

    The Addis Ababa master plan is a blueprint to expand the capital into the Oromiya region. The protesters believe that the expansion will lead to land grabs without proper compensation and a loss of the Oromo culture and language.

    A shop owner, who participated in the protests, says those who created the master plan do not understand that life is tough and that people like him will not benefit from the promised development. He says there is no benefit for the people to have outside investors who take their land.

    Established in 1991

    The Oromiya region was established when the current government came to power in 1991. The federal system was divided along ethnic lines. The Oromos are the largest ethnic group in the country.

    Bekele Gerba, leader of the opposition Oromo Federal Congress, lives in Adama, the former capital of the Oromiya region. The city, about 60 kilometers south of Addis Ababa, has also seen protests in recent weeks.

    Gerba says Oromos have never been treated like equals by Ethiopia's leaders, but he believes the current government is the worst.

    “The ruling classes, usually, they think that Oromo is a threat," he said. " 'One day they can overwhelm us. Therefore, they have to be treated in such a way so that they won't have any power.' Therefore, for example, we don’t have any power in the military. All the military commanders belong to a different ethnic group.”

    Gerba’s party says more than 75 people have died since the protests began, and that many of his party members have been detained. Rights organizations such as Human Rights Watch say the government is using "excessive lethal force" on the protesters.

    A government spokesman, Getachew Reda, told VOA on Wednesday that security forces had exercised restraint, "even under circumstances where they found themselves overwhelmed."

    You May Like

    Chechen Suspected in Istanbul Attack, but Questions Remain

    Turkish sources say North Caucasus militants involved in bombing at Ataturk airport, but name of at least one alleged attacker raises doubts

    With Johnson Out, Can a New ‘Margaret Thatcher’ Save Britain?

    Contest to replace David Cameron as Britain’s prime minister started in earnest Thursday with top candidates outlining strategy to deal with Brexit fallout

    US Finds Progress Slow Against Human Trafficking in Africa

    Africa continues to be a major source and destination for human trafficking of all kinds -- from forced labor to sexual slavery, says State Department report

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    by: Yodit
    December 25, 2015 5:37 AM
    Against development, protesting to remain on food aid.

    "Oromo, always wrong (old Ethiopian proverb)."

    by: Wotabo Kebede from: Nazareth, Ethiopia
    December 24, 2015 8:12 AM
    It is true that Ethiopia is ruled by a single ethnic group with the participation of selected bunch of individuals brought in the guise of parties seemingly representing ethnic communities - the Amharas, Oromos, Southerners, etc. Brutal actions are being taken by the army drawn and commanded by the TPLF in the presence of such dumb parties that claim to have represented their clans. One-man one-vote arrangement with the participation of opposition parties in a climate of equality and fairness and without vote rigging is the only solution that will bring peace and trust; and sustainable democratic and economic development in this country. A two-digit growth will be meaningless unless the current turmoil is resolved with care and in a responsible manner. Stubbornness by the current rulers does not pay. Just looking at what is happening in the Mid-east will be sufficient to avoid hatred and incite fratricidal war and handle the situation in a rational manner.

    by: Selam from: Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
    December 24, 2015 7:22 AM
    Narrowly shot photo of 5 economic migrants in Malta keeps getting posted as protest representing nation of 100 million Ethiopians. I mean...Really? There were 1000 people at last Ethiopian wedding I attended.

    by: Okillo
    December 24, 2015 6:10 AM
    Do you think huge cities like Paris, NY, etc. got to their current size without a cost to their surrounding communities? The problem is Ethiopians in general and Oromo tribe in particular are uncivilized people. I feel sorry for the gov trying to bring civilization to this herd. For crying out loud, this nation is starving now, and they are fighting over some internal border. They should be growing food. Damn fools.
    In Response

    by: kassa Tiruneh from: United States
    December 25, 2015 12:42 PM
    Probably you are one of those 'qimalam' Woyanes. Believe it or not you and your children will pay for what is being done to the Oromo people.
    In Response

    by: Free
    December 24, 2015 9:05 AM
    Dear Okillo,
    If the previous regime and current regime were really working for the benefit of people we can't beg food from you and annoy you this way.By the way the farmers who are going to be evicted or already evicted (not only in Addis Ababa but refers to all regions) without proper compensation and not making them part of the plan are those at least feed themselves. But will soon join the 15000000 requiring food aid as you may know.

    After all food self sufficiency for Ethiopia is becoming as a second coming of Jesus but solving the problem must not be planned at the expense of the poor and non inclusive policy. If government get billions from the land let the society get its share then society get richer, Ethiopia develop, objective of policy to become middle income by 2025 will be achieved. This does not require knowledge of scientist or bullet to convince students.

    by: Tigre
    December 24, 2015 5:26 AM
    3 million against 50 million kkkkk . I do not think that these 50 million can even protect them selvies from beating them to death without one shot.

    by: Tigrai
    December 24, 2015 5:17 AM
    Do you think that oromo large population can defeat the only 3million tigre in the power? 50 million against 3 million !!! My answer is never!! Can you workout why? I need an answer?

    by: Rahel from: Ethiopia
    December 24, 2015 5:13 AM
    Futile attempts of Diaspora ethnocentric opposition trying to reverse Ethiopia's progress to date:

    1. Double-digit annual economic growth since 2005 (World Bank data).
    2. Infant mortality reduced over 65% (UNICEF data)
    3. HIV incidence rate reduced by over 90% (WHO data)
    4. Primary school enrollment at near 90%, up from 20% (UN data).
    5. Five hydroelectric dams built, planet's 8th largest 50% complete (Grand Renaissance Dam).

    "Ethiopia is on tract to become a middle income country by 2025" ~ World Bank

    Everybody can't be wrong. Sorry!

    In Response

    by: The Freedom Deprived from: Finfine
    December 24, 2015 5:06 PM
    I think Rahel could be a new Woyane Recruit at the data cooking institute called CSA (Central Statistics Authority) in Ethiopia. Dear Rahel, Have you ever seen WHO or UNICEF or World Bank enumerators collecting data by themselves? They are given "data" by your Ethiopian gov't (CSA), and they have to take it or leave it as they have no choice !! That is a short story of your description of the Developmental Ethiopia you should be Ashamed of. Remember, Just last year, your PM declared Ethiopia being a food Secure country and was falsely given trophy at FAO HQ in Rome. But four months later, he declared that the country is on famine. That speaks louder than his/your data.
    In Response

    by: Erkin from: Ethiopia
    December 24, 2015 9:17 AM
    Ms. Do u like cooked data which has garbeg in and garbeg out. If it was that then we would not see cattle drawn farming a kilometer around addis ababa. It is only poping up to draw more aids which shall casated to those narrow Tigres. No country accepts what is said, even world bank. But it serves only for purposes, so far the government is available in Somalia.

    The So called development of 11% or more were said in Tunisia, even to the extent the are not part of Arab rather the norther part, Europe. When times, it swept away every body. The facts here much much worse. it serves propaganda or The Tigre Thugs

    by: JOHN from: Oromia
    December 24, 2015 5:03 AM
    Ethiopia is now becoming cruel and cursed country for its citizen. the regime is state terrorist, killing and torturing innocent people. all people were frustrated because of brutal act of this dictator regime. in my eyes they are barbaric and animals. they didn't care for any citizen, and they just fire gun to those who challenge them. there is no democracy and no human right, and there is no development at all, Just Corruption, bad governance and Lie.

    by: Anwar
    December 23, 2015 9:04 PM
    The hotbed of protests are blocked of so that no information gets in and out. The situation for the people is much worse now than before because people are being arrested and tortured as we speak and they have no one to help them.
    The US should choose between temporary security and lasting one because if 40 mill. People in the HOA cannot find security, no one will in the region for many years to come. People can no longer sit and look to the west for help. They are going to stand up to injustices and inhuman treatments under the minority group that has no concept of humanity. The US needs to stand for democracy, human rights, and the rule of law. Times are different from those of the Penochet. The true democracy is triumphing all around the world shortening the lives of dictatorial regimes. The US politicians don't seem to realize this.

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Clinton Leads Trump, But Many Voters Don't Like Eitheri
    Jim Malone
    June 29, 2016 6:16 PM
    In the U.S. presidential race, most recent polls show Democrat Hillary Clinton with a steady lead over Republican Donald Trump as both presumptive party nominees prepare for their party conventions next month. Trump’s disapproval ratings have risen in some recent surveys, but Clinton also suffers from high negative ratings, suggesting both candidates have a lot of work to do to improve their images before the November election. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.

    Video Clinton Leads Trump, But Many Voters Don't Like Either

    In the U.S. presidential race, most recent polls show Democrat Hillary Clinton with a steady lead over Republican Donald Trump as both presumptive party nominees prepare for their party conventions next month. Trump’s disapproval ratings have risen in some recent surveys, but Clinton also suffers from high negative ratings, suggesting both candidates have a lot of work to do to improve their images before the November election. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.

    Video Slow Rebuilding Amid Boko Haram Destruction in Nigeria’s Northeast

    Military operations have chased Boko Haram out of towns and cities in Nigeria’s northeast since early last year. But it is only recently that people have begun returning to their homes in Adamawa state, near the border with Cameroon, to try to rebuild their lives. For VOA, Chris Stein traveled to the area and has this report.

    Video New US Ambassador to Somalia Faces Heavy Challenges

    The new U.S. envoy to Somalia, who was sworn into office Monday, will be the first American ambassador to that nation in 25 years. He will take up his post as Somalia faces a number of crucial issues, including insecurity, an upcoming election, and the potential closure of the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya. VOA’s Jill Craig asked Somalis living in Kenya’s capital city Nairobi how they feel about the U.S. finally installing a new ambassador.

    Video At National Zoo, Captivating Animal Sculptures Illustrate Tragedy of Ocean Pollution

    The National Zoo in Washington, D.C., is home to about 1,800 animals, representing 300 species. But throughout the summer, visitors can also see other kinds of creatures there. They are larger-than-life animal sculptures that speak volumes about a global issue — the massive plastic pollution in our oceans. VOA's June Soh takes us to the zoo's special exhibit, called Washed Ashore: Art to Save the Sea.

    Video Baghdad Bikers Defy War with a Roar

    Baghdad is a city of contradictions. War is a constant. Explosions and kidnappings are part of daily life. But the Iraqi capital remains a thriving city, even if a little beat up. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on how some in Baghdad are defying the stereotype of a nation at war by pursuing a lifestyle known for its iconic symbols of rebellion: motorbikes, leather jackets and roaring engines.

    Video Melting Pot of Immigrants Working to Restore US Capitol Dome

    The American Iron Works company is one of the firms working to renovate the iconic U.S. Capitol Dome. The company employs immigrants of many different cultural and national backgrounds. VOA’s Arman Tarjimanyan has more.

    Video Testing Bamboo as Building Material

    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.

    Video Orphanage in Iraqi City Houses Kids Who Lost their Parents to Attacks by IS

    An orphanage in Iraqi Kurdistan has become home to scores of Yazidi children who lost their parents after Islamic State militants took over Sinjar in Iraq’s Nineveh Province in 2014. Iraqi Kurdish forces backed by the U.S. airstrikes have since recaptured Sinjar but the need for the care provided by the orphanage continues. VOA’s Kawa Omar filed this report narrated by Rob Raffaele.

    Video Re-Opening Old Wounds in a Bullet-Riddled Cultural Landmark

    A cultural landmark before Lebanon’s civil war transformed it into a nest of snipers, Beirut’s ‘Yellow House’ is once again set to play a crucial role in the city.  Built in a neo-Ottoman style in the 1920s, in September it is set to be re-opened as a ‘memory museum’ - its bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking the city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity. John Owens reports from Beirut.

    Video Brexit Resounds in US Presidential Contest

    Britain’s decision to leave the European Union is resounding in America’s presidential race. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump sees Britain’s move as an affirmation of his campaign’s core messages, while Democrat Hillary Clinton sees the episode as further evidence that Trump is unfit to be president.

    Video NASA Juno Spacecraft, Nearing Jupiter, to Shed Light on Gas Giant

    After a five-year journey, the spacecraft Juno is nearing its destination, the giant planet Jupiter, where it will enter orbit and start sending data back July 4th. As Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, the craft will pierce the veil of Jupiter's dense cloud cover to reveal its mysteries.

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora