3 March 2016

Ethiopia: Union of the Oromo Gadaa Councils "Alarmed" & "Deeply Disturbed" By Unrest in Oromiya - Urged for Solutions

Photo: Focus on Land in Africa
Ethiopian farmers (file photo).

The Union of the Oromo Gadaa Councils said it was "alarmed" by the unrest in Oromiya and is "deeply disturbed" that many lives were lost and properties damaged in connection with the ongoing #Oromoprotest, which is deep into its fourth month.

In a statement released on February 24, 2016 and was sent to Addis Standard, the Union emphasized "the need to find solutions to the causes of the disturbances". The statement was issued after representatives from all Gadaa Councils deliberated on the matter in Addis Abeba on the 23rd and the 24th of February.

The Union further urged various measures to be taken including the immediate cessation of the ongoing conflicts; the payment of financial compensation for loss of lives in accordance with the Gadaa tradition; and the releasing of all those imprisoned without any charge.

It also requested the government in Ethiopia to address the demands of the people immediately, and the public to continue to present their demands peacefully. Additionally it demanded "an immediate halt" to the practice of evicting farmers from their land without their consent and without adequate compensation. "We call upon the government to look into the damage created by past mistakes and ensure that the victims are made whole." The Union expressed its readiness "to discuss and seek solutions to the crisis that has now disrupted the peace of our country,"

In a similar statement the Union announced that it has decided to celebrate the upcoming Irreecha festivals (Thanksgiving holiday of the Oromo people) in "the City of Finfinnee"(Addis Abeba).

The Union also vowed "to create an independent source of income for the Councils in order to strengthen the Gadaa system" and "strengthen Waaqeffanaa, the Oromo traditional religion, in accordance with the Gadaa System, the religion's original tenets and the Oromo moral system of safuu."

The statement calls upon people with no affiliation with the Gadaa councils, "who are now interfering in Gadaa affairs" to refrain from engaging in Gadaa-related acts for which they "have no representation".

The ongoing Oromo protests, which started on Nov. 12th last year, against a government's plan to expand the capital Addis Abeba into the heartland of the surrounding towns and villages under the Oromiya regional state, is believed to have claimed the lives of more than 300 civilians in the hands of government security apparatus .

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