Response to Mr. Nagessa Dube’s, “Analysis” on the Freedom of Guji Oromo from itself
By Global OLA Support Task Force (firstname.lastname@example.org)
We are writing this piece in response to the “analysis” made by Mr. Nagessa Dube, titled “Guji Oromo need freedom from liberators” posted on the Ethiopian insight about the Oromo Liberation Army (OLA) operating in Southern Oromia. Mr. Nagessa Dube, a Prosperity Party (PP) high ranking official, is politically assigned as Deputy Attorney General at Oromia Attorney General’s Office. He claimed to have gathered the information used in his “analysis” during his nearly two month-stay in Negele district early this year. In his “analysis,” he picked up several issues that were incomprehensible and presented equivocally for political propaganda purposes. We will respond to just two major points he tried to feature.
The first point is on his allegation against OLA for the killing of more than 700 civilians in east and west Guji zones since April 2018. On the one hand, Mr. Dube is right that many people, perhaps more than he mentioned, have been killed in east and west Guji zones in the last two years with thousands more displaced. It is also true that murder, torture, rape, lootings, destruction and burning of villages have been common in the area since PM Abiy came to power. On the other hand, Mr. Dube appears to have lost moral compass when he attempted to implicate OLA to this atrocity. Nagessa Dube comes from this area, appear to have family members still living there and said he spent about two months on the ground there. Unless he hides and wanted to use for political purposes, he must have complete information about who is behind all the killings and torture. His writing is a well calculated deception effort where, on the one hand, he laid out the facts on the ground (the killings and tortures) as they happened to earn credence to the story. On the other hand, he attempts to maneuver and paint it different color by blaming OLA for it. One needs to understand that what Nagessa learned in two months of living with that community must be abundantly clear and known to the community from whom he gathered the information. What do the community say about the crimes going on there? Here is what Abba Gadaa said about the PP officials lie and the crimes taking place in Gujii and Borana zones:
“I felt like I was going crazy because no Oromo could tell me what was wrong with PP officials,” Abbaa Gadaa said, after listening to OBN TV channels. “I have watched the OBN TV broadcasting of many PP officials’ comments on the present situation in Oromia and about the armed units in the country. I don’t agree with the officials complain and I don’t want to repeat what they have said, but the saying that OLA killed innocent civilians is absurd,” Abbaa Gadaa added. “The armed bodies in the country are many, some sustained by the government, but the complain that OLA is the only armed front in the country is a white lie,” he criticized, Abiy’s administration personnel complain. According to Abbaa Gadaa, he used to believe a few members of OPDO that they are true teller from the PP circle until he listened to their interview on OBN and other TV channels. “Many PP members, informed us that no one killed by the so called the “Ethiopian military forces” in Southern Oromia, while I have credible information that more than 1000 innocent civilians killed in Borana, Western and Eastern Gujii zone by Ethiopian military and security forces in the last two years alone,” Abba Gadaa complained. “Members of OLA are all Oromo children fighting for the cause of Oromo, to solve the real issues of the country that need due attention; they are not civilian killers, they are defenders of Oromo and their homeland Oromia.” Abba Gadaa asserted. “Why prosperity party officials lie when they don’t need to?” Abba Gadaa asked. For the detail information please refer the following link: https://ayyaantuu.org/afaan-oromoo/why-oromo-democratic-party-odp-officials-lie-when-they-dont-need-to/
We have heard time and again, through social media, personal testimony, TV channels, an independent human right organizations such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch that the government forces are the ones who are killing innocent people, burning villages, raping women, in general, destroying livelihoods in east Guji, west Guji as well as Borana zones. One can easily refer to what Amnesty International independently analyzed and published on May 2020: “Beyond Law Enforcement: Human Rights Violations By Ethiopian Security Forces in Amhara and Oromia” https://www.amnesty.org/en/documents/afr25/2358/2020/en/. You can easily get further detail information about unjustified war against the Oromo people by Ethiopian government on the following link: https://ayyaantuu.org/afaan-oromoo/unjustified-war-against-oromo-people-war-against-wbo-is-war-against-qeerroo/
Let us also look at just some facts out of Mr. Dube’s long narrative and leave the analysis to readers.
Fact no. 1: If it was the OLA who has been committing this crime as Mr. Dube is alleging, then why would the Prosperity Party government wanted the area to be sealed to the media, human rights groups and refused repeated calls for free and independent investigation of the killings and tortures committed in the regions? What is it that the government is trying to cover if it did not do any wrong?
Fact no. 2: OLA force operating in the region is almost entirely made up youth from that region. They are children of east and west Guji and Borana zones who were left with no choice but pick up guns to confront dictatorial regime causing untold suffering to their community. They are protected and fed by their people and operate among them. So why would OLA kill and destroy the same community that it hailed from that provides it shelter, food/drink and vital information about the government? The answers are plain and clear. It has been the government forces committing these heinous crimes. The government orders its army to round up, shoot and kill anyone they suspect to have association with OLA. The communities have spoken loud and clear about this. Government forces captured by OLA have come to the media and outlined about the kinds of order they are given and the crimes they commit. The audio records of these testimonies are available and can be presented.
Fact no. 3: Mr. Dube also touched on several other self-conflicting issues such as downplaying the viability of OLA citing their sheer number as only 500 at one point and now 4000 in the whole of southern Oromia. But he failed to reflect on why the government with more than 500,000 active members in its army equipped with the state-of-the-art weaponry embarrassingly failed to defeat just 4000 rebels after a two-year long massive campaign that included declaration of state of emergency and institution of command post. On the contrary, here is what Ethiopian army had to say about OLA’s heroism:
“I did my first deployment in Wollega and haven’t come home although my mother passed away in natural cause and my father killed by the government body, the government I am fighting for. I never considered myself as Oromo until my father killed by Abiy security forces. My father was a generous and likable by members of the community and lovely dad I ever had. My father killed being self-confident Oromo, we are killing people like him in Wollega. From that day onwards, I contemplated myself by implication as a killer of my father. I was devastated. After being in Wollega for more than a year, I was rethinking about my identity. The last three months were so intense in my life; I was stressed in the whole situation. I knew our unit is getting deployment orders to Borana and Gujii. I said, “I’m not going!” I just couldn’t do it again. I lost thousands of my comrades on Wollega soil (Government body confirmed more than 670 Ethiopian solders lost their life on the battle with Oromo Liberation Army in only six months); I was mentally drained, and I was angry. “I know we can’t win this war; they fight (OLA) with determination and high moral value, but we are not; even, I don’t understand why I am fighting for. There is nothing new. The people they say ABO Shane, they are innocent, all talk Afaan Oromoo, just like my father who scarified for the same cause. Why can’t people just say I don’t want to kill civilians anymore and leave the Army just like a person who would resign from a regular job? I wanted to serve my country with honor, but I didn’t sign up to kill because he is an Oromo. But it’s how Oromo People in Wollega are treated. Horribly! Dear reader, the experience of this person is a fraction of others who have witnessed many untold horrifying situations: Further information can be referred at https://ayyaantuu.org/afaan-oromoo/abiy-ahmeds-two-years-imprudent-journey/
The second point Mr. Dube tinted is on the alleged relationship between OLA and OLF. Here, he repeated what his party PP has been trying to sell over the last year and a half. He accuses the OLF leadership as having links with OLA. Of course, OLA was one of the many operational wings of the OLF until the OLF leaders decided to abandon military struggle and went home to participate in peaceful political processes. The OLF has registered and acquired certificate from the National Electoral Board of Ethiopia as one of the national parties and opened offices in various regions including Oromia, Amahara and Benishangul-Gumz regions. Prior to that, the OLF publicly announced that it has completely abandoned the armed resistance and surrendered its fighters to the Oromo people and the Aba Gadas in the presence of the president of the state of Oromia. This was followed by a letter signed by the OLF chairman instructing the OLA senior commanders to lay down arms and return to peaceful life. Following this, a 71-member technical committee was set up to facilitate the demobilization effort. The committee traveled to the west and south Oromia, met with the OLA members and commanders. The OLA expressed reluctance to lay-down arms until the government show willingness to sit down in the presence of a third party and reach a negotiated settlement on political, economic and social issues in Ethiopia and Oromia. The lack of commitment by government to enter into such comprehensive peace negotiation was perceived by OLA as usual tactic of the government. OLA then publicly rejected the proposal as mockery and formally dissociated itself from its parent organization OLF and instituted the OLA High Command to provide the overall leadership. In its wrap up conference, the technical committee presented its reports in the presence of senior leadership of the front and the state of Oromia including its president confirming the dissociation of OLF from any of OLA activities. Both President Shimelis Abdisa and OLF Chairman Dawud Ibsa signed the document that states OLF will not be implicated to any OLA activity from that day on. So, Mr. Dube should either refer to this document or speak to his senior colleagues in the party before leveling a blind accusation.
Although trained as law professional and positioned as Deputy Attorney General at Oromia Attorney General’s Office, Mr. Dube failed to display the basic principle of law, impartiality and innocence until proven guilty. At one point he mentioned that the rank and files of OLA swelled after former OPDO members found guilty of corruption enlisted themselves for training at OLA camps. Firstly, OPDO was the very same organization that OLA has been fighting for the last 30 years that recently gave birth to PP. Secondly, we have not seen anyone in the ranks of OPDO charged for corruption let alone to be found guilty and run away to join rebels.
We hope Mr. Dube is sane and not suffering from paranoia. He was member of opposition party, Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC) until 2019 when he was fired by the party chairman for financial fraud. This was a shock and tarnished his image prompting him to immediately re-package himself and sign up for membership to Prosperity Party (PP), the illegal group that proclaimed itself as the de-facto rulers of the country. Mr. Dube’s paranoia does not seem to be over as he has to prove himself yet to his new party about his loyalty and hence has to rumble with issues he either has no knowledge about or lack the ability to deliver a coherent message on.
Note: Global OLA Support Task Force is a working task group under WBO leader, formed for the purpose of supporting WBO and carrying out Media advocacy to advance Oromo cause. Can be reached at email@example.com