POWr Social Media Icons

Friday, April 4, 2014

Proliferation of Political Organizations Does Not Address the Sidama National Question.

Press Release
United Sidama Parties fro Freedom and Justice (USPFJ) 

Ever since humans established the first form of states in the four fertile river valleys: The Tigris-Euphrates valley, the Nile valley, the Indus valley and the Huanghe valley, political organizations evolved in various forms and shapes. History has it that the Sumerians were the first to organize into a city-state system of administration in southern Mesopotamia around 3500 BCE, followed soon by the Egyptians in the Nile valley and the Harappans at Indus valley at around 3000 BCE. The main objectives of the political organization of these ancient societies were to develop their culture and language primarily through invention of scripts that were used for accounting, poetry and literature for political propaganda. Equally important were trade among other societies, in particular exchange of goods, domesticated crops and animals as well as ideas with other societies at similar stages of development. The initial stages of the development of these ancient political systems (states) were less despotic and less violent. Nonetheless, with the rise in accumulation wealth, competition over control of resources gave rise to conflicts among various groups within and outside of the early states leading to domestic political dictatorships and external conquest and subsequent subjugation of weaker societies by stronger ones.
Although political systems and institutions evolved tremendously across the globe over the 5 and a half millennia since humans first formed states, their fundamental tenets still remain invariably intact today.  The stronger and powerful states or societies or ethnic groups continue to suppress and exploit the weaker and the less powerful societies within and outside of certain political boundaries. The response of the suppressed groups have accordingly taken various forms and shapes ranging from passive resistance and disobedience to the rules of the oppressors to armed uprisings and confrontations with varying degrees of success. 

During the heyday of the Sidama civilization, political, social and economic affairs of the society were managed through an indigenous African, pluralist and egalitarian political system. These systems comprised of the Songo (supreme legislative council of political, economic and social governance) under the leadership of Moote (Kings). The Kings were supported by the institutions of Woma and Luwa (an age-grade administrative and cultural system similar to the Gada system of the sisterly Oromo society), which anchor the administrative, cultural and defense structures of the society.  This nonetheless came to an abrupt end in 1891 when Sidama was for the first time conquered and forcefully incorporated into the modern day Ethiopia by the invading army of King Minelik II. 

Since the conquest and forced annexation by the new Ethiopian empire, the Sidama people have relentlessly resisted the occupation, the wanton economic exploitation and social and cultural denigration through armed confrontation of the successive oppressive systems. In the early 1970s, the armed resistance hitherto scattered across the Sidama nation took was reorganized under a unified political structure, which in late 1970s evolved into the Sidama Liberation Movement. The Sidama Liberation Movement mobilized the Sidama people in the scale hitherto unknown in the history of the Sidama nation and waged overt armed struggle against the militarily regime for over 7 years liberating a number of highland districts. The struggle for self-determination by the gallant Sidama heroes and heroines cost the Sidama society over 30,000 lives from both sides who were obliged to take arm against each other during this period alone. The Sidama people made enormous contributions in Ethiopia’s struggle to overthrow the socialist -cum-military dictatorship and therefore had high hopes that their age old demand for regional self-determination would be addressed when revolutionary forces finally over threw the military regime in 1991.  But that was not to be. Instead, the Sidama people for the first time since 1891, lost their nominal regional identify and were once more forcefully subsumed under the Southern Region comprising of over 50 small ethnic groups.
In the wake of what one would regard as the nation’s second political tragedy in a century, patriotic Sidamas demanded unwavering leadership form the Sidama Liberation Movement.  Unfortunately this was not to be either. The leadership of   the movement became effectively feckless.  Various attempts to reform the movement fell on deaf ears of its key leaders. At that historic juncture, the patriotic Sidamas had only two choices. Either abandon the age old struggle for self-determination for which thousands of lives have been sacrificed or form alternative political arrangements that could resuscitate the national struggle.  That gave birth to the Sidama Liberation Front (SLF) and later the Sidama National Liberation Organization (SNLO). These organizations had not only rejuvenated and sustained the Sidama struggle for self-determination until today but also succeeded in reintegrating the veteran political organization, the Sidama Liberation Movement in a land mark political deal to create the United Sidama Parties for Freedom and Justice (USPFJ, for short) in 2012.
At the time when political opposition of the oppressed nations has been significantly weakened in Ethiopia due to disagreements over political objectives, the union of the three independent Sidama political institutions under one umbrella was indeed a significant success and was an envy of many. Nonetheless, to the shock and dismay of many Sidama compatriots, we have witnessed in this last two months an attempt by certain individuals to create a new political organization in the name of the Sidama people: the “Sidama National Democratic Movement”. In a modern democratic system individuals are free to express their own opinions. We are not against the freedom of individuals to do whatever they want. This is fundamental human freedom for which our gallant Sidama heroes have spilt their blood for decades. Nonetheless, this freedom should not be misconstrued to mean the use of the name of a society to advance individual interests without a clear alternative vision to change the plight of that society.  We have ascertained this from two vivid evidences. First, the website of the so called democratic movement has contained information plagiarized from the websites of the Sidama National Liberation Organization, Sidama.org and the Sidama Liberation Front, without due permission of the institutions who possess copy rights to these reports. A little manipulation of and additions and deductions of the phrases of these reports does not make them the original ideas and thoughts of the individuals who committed these appalling acts. If the individuals do not have their own ideas and thoughts about their new political structure, what alternative vision do they have for the Sidama society? Secondly and most shockingly the plagiarized copy of the overview of the Sidama Resistance Movement in the web sites of our political organizations mentioned above is posted as the political program of the so called “democratic movement.”  We hope the Sidama people and the readers would understand what we mean when individuals should desist from abusing the name of a society to promote self-interests.
This is not the time for duplication of political organizations in the name of the Sidama society. This is the time for consolidation of efforts to galvanize the limited resources to harness the struggle of our society for self-determination.  We warn the individuals behind the botched attempt to form a new political organization NOT to use the name of the Sidama society to form alliances with right wing chauvinist organizations that are hell bent to reverse the democratic gains made during the past two decades. Rest assured that the Sidama people will gallantly guard, as they have done time and again in history, the democratic gains achieved through their precious lives.
And finally, we demand that the reports unduly and unethically plagiarized from our websites be removed from the websites of the “Sidama National Democratic Movement”, your website, as immediately as possible!
United Sidama Parties for Freedom and Justice (USPFJ)

04 April 2014
Serious Human Rights Violations in Sidamaland: State-Sponsored Violence in Continuity as Ever.
By: Hawassa Times, 03 April, 2014, (Hawassa, Sidama).
  • Hawassa city under Ruthless security grip following legitimate quests by students. At least the main gates of the city and all schools compounds are surrounded by armored gunmen. 
  • Several shot by police and many wounded by police action since yesterday.
  • Social unrest and public arousal felt in Sidamaland.
It has already been asserted that the rigorous human rights violations under the rule of parochial TPLF leadership became the contemporary reality in Ethiopia. Many international human rights activists and organizations have outpoured and lauded their voices regarding the bitter situation of the rights contravention, and so explicitly along the ethnic lines. Sidaamaland has specifically been subjected to endless human rights abuses, massacres, killings and arbitrary detentions since the turn of 1990’s and ultimately culminated in the shockingly brutal ‘Looqqe Massacre’ in which hundreds of unarmed civilians lost their lives unlawfully by the state armed security forces. This continued to live as a collective memory among the suffering Sidaama public today. Letting aside repenting for its extremely disproportionate military actions on the peaceful demonstrators who were claiming their constitutional rights to regional self-administration, the regime continued to act vehemently rather in a way to suffocate peaceful political atmosphere in the region.

Supported and closely assisted by its puppet regional affiliate-SEPDM, the TPLF’s aspiration to sustain hard won victory and maintain political hegemony in the country’s body politics have forced the authoritarian TPLF to undertake tremendously hazardous measures against the clearly stipulated constitutional covenants-contravening its own declarations for ‘human rights protection, ethnic right to self-determination, equality etc’. The Sidaamas are particularly vulnerable to TPLF’s abusive measures since this people are the famous and leading ones to challenge specifically the regional restructuring of the federation-being forcedly amalgamated in to the so called SNNPR-‘prison house’ of more than 56 Nations, nationalities and peoples.

Since the unfolding of TPLF’s ethnic federal arrangement in the country, Sidaamaland has been under a special focus as the said people have been vigilantly claiming to exercise their right to regional self-determination. The TPLF actors, on the other hand, saw this as an assault on their pragmatic/sensible political settings which originally aimed to sustain their hegemonic power positions. Since the Looqqe mass murder, different tumultuous occasions have taken place where the regime took ruthless measures on the Sidaama civilian population and its young elites in order to crush potential challenge in their bid to endlessly transfer the Sidaama resources to their homeland, and ease the political friction which may occur when Sidaama’s continued call for regional self-administration is to materialize. This has given a rise to endless turmoil in the region where assault on the fundamental rights of the Sidaama nationals has become the order of the day.

In June 2012, the regime introduced a very niggling and/or troublesome agenda in their continued bid to put out of articulation/displace Sidaama administration from their home city-Hawassa-by rearranging the administration of the city through making the responsibility of administering the city common for all ethnic groups. Their stipulation clearly preordained that the Sidaamas must surrender the administration posts to either federal or regional government and has no right to claim whatever about the city. This necessitated the unprecedented mobilization of the entire Sidaama public as a national call agenda to defend, safeguard and free their ancestral land from ‘politicized invasion’ hitherto unparalleled in the history of the country.
This resistance movement resulted in the worsening of the already deteriorated peace in the area in which hundreds of the citizens were forcedly put in to jail, tortured, several shot and victimized. According to some analysts, the chorocratic TPLF has maintained this divide-and-rule policy on Sidama by controlling and mentoring its affiliated regional parties and effectively recruiting and mobilizing top officials against the Sidaama public.

Though the current situation and its whereabouts of the party’s said agenda cannot be stated in precise terms, the Sidaama public, at least curbed the detrimental ‘metropolitan agenda’-as it was called- by paying life sacrifices. By looking at the ostentatious reality, commentators on the politics operational in Sidaamaland came to observe that ‘the TPLF/SEPDM’s anti-Sidaama measures-to weaken the Sidaama nationalism, dismember/dissect their ancestral territory and split their resistance-has taken a form of constant and perpetual shape in post 1991 Ethiopia’.

This year as well, following some manifestly legitimate quests from the Sidaama high school students, the regime has unleashed the ‘hostilities of terror’ against the Sidaama public in general and the incapable and innocent students in particular. The claims of the students-in line with the very policy of the regime- is the quest to learn in their own mother tongue, to rename the schools’ name along the Sidaama parlance and safeguard their constitutional interests-the quests which are quite legitimate and do not negate the rights of others. These are some of the enduring questions which are deep-seated in the Sidaama public as well.

However, the incumbent military regime with fake civilian coat staged to take unnecessarily harsh and repressive measures against the innocent students rather than to deal with the issues amicably. A belief in military might-inherited from its past successive Abyssinian authoritarian traditions-is still found to be impacting the peaceful dialogue and democratic consensus resulting in the prevalence of conflicting tendencies in the greater Sidaamaland-this also negatively impacting the incentives of social transformation and improvement in public life.

Since April 2014-this month-Hawassa city, a capital of Sidaamaland-has been put under the security clench as it is common phenomena in the area under the leadership of this regime. The regional special security force, Ag-az-the cruel federal police branch and others have been engaged in shootings and firing on the unarmed and peaceful-innocent students for the simple reason that they are Sidaama or speak Sidaama language.

Despite the cruel police measure including shootings, torture and inhumane treatment of those arrested, the students have continued their peaceful quests for their genuine demands mentioned above. The situation is worsened when the students in rural high schools are also joining the stage. As of April 2, 2014, the police shot dead 3 and wounded many in Hawassa Tabor and Alamura high schools, and much more catastrophic injuries according to reliable local sources and eye witnesses. This figure of death is subject to increase or double since the hunting and torturing students continued unabated. As a result, the situation is feared not to result in another tense social annoyance and arousal which-in the due course-may mobilize and join the discontented Sidaama public in the struggle against the allegedly discriminatory and abusive TPLF rule.

Whatever the trend and the far-reaching consequences may be, the concerned state organs should deliver appropriately fitting solutions for the quests of the students-which are also quests of the larger Sidaama community. The military action under the guise of ‘maintaining public security’ has much exceeded its upper limit drawing its past experience of assault on the Ethiopian public at large. The regime must become conscious that military measures could not be-in the long run-a sound and lasting solution-rather than worsening the already deteriorated social harmony and peace-largely occurring between the Sidaamas and the incumbent regime-typified as vertical conflict.

Here, it is commendable to propose that the right-based, legitimate and genuine demands of the students and the public at the back of them should be addressed through compromise and peaceful dialogue. If opted different way, its detrimental/destructive consequences would be far-reaching and requires second thought!

ሲኣን/መድረክ ባለፈው ሳምንት በሃዋሳ ከተማ የፖለቲካ ፕሮግራሙን ለኣባላቱ እና ለደጋፊዎቹ ለማስተዋወቅ የጠራውን ህዝባዊ ስብሰባ ገዥው ፓርቲ የመሰብሰቢያ ኣዳራሽ በመከልከል እና የሲኣን/መድረክ ኣባላት በስብሰባው ላይ እንዳይሳተፉ ተጽዕኖ በማድረግ ለማድናቀፍ ያደረጋው ጥረት ሳይሳካ ቀርቷል።

ሪፖርተራችን ጥቻ ወራና ከሃዋሳ እንደዘጋበው የሲዳማ ኣርነት ንቅናቄ ከመድረክ ጋር በመተባበር በሃዋሳ ከተማ ባለፈው ሳምንት ያከሄደው ታላቅ ህዝባዊ ጉባኤ ልካሄድ የነበረው መጋቢት 2/2007 /ም ቢሆንም፤ የሲዳማ ዞን እና የሃዋሳ ከተማ ኣስተዳደር ኣዳራሽ በመከልከላቸው የተነሳ ወደ መጋቢት 20 2006 /ም ለማስተላለፍ መገደዱ ታውቋል።

ጉባኤውን ለማካሄድ እንደኣማራጭ ተይዞ ከነበሩት መሰብሰቢያ ኣዳራሾች መካከል የሲዳማ ባህል ኣዳራሽ ኣንዱ ሲሆን፤ ባህል ኣዳራሹን የሚያስተዳድረው የሲዳማ ዞን ኣዳራሹ በተመሳሳይ ቀን በሌላ ሰብሰባ መያዙን የምገልጽ ምላሽ ሰጥቷል።

በሁለተኛ ኣማራጭነት የተያዘው በሃዋሳ ከተማ ኣስተዳደር ውስጥ የምገኙ ኣደራሾች ሲሆን፤ የከተማዋ ኣስተዳደር የመሰብሰቢያ ኣዳራሽ እንድፈቅድ በደብዳቤ ተጠይቆ ዛሬ ነገ በማለት ምላሽ ሳይሰጥ ቆይቶ በኃላ ላይ ኣዳራሽ እንደሌለው በመግለጽ ምላሽ መስጠቱ ታውቋል።

በህዝብ ገንዘብ ለህዝብ ግልጋሎት እንድሰጥጡ የተገነቡትን እንዚህ ኣዳራሽ ለመጠቀም የተደረገው ጥረት በገዥው ፓርቲ ኣስተዳደሮች በመከልከሉ ሲኣን/መድረክ ፊታቸውን ወደ ግል ኣዳራሾች በማዞር በሃዋሳ በሴንቴራል ሆቴል ኣዳራሽ የተከራዩ ቢሆንም፤ የሆቴሉ ባለቤት በገዥው ፓርቲ ኣባላት ማስፈራሪ እንደደረሳቸው በመግለጽ ለኣዳራሽ መከራያ የተሰጣቸውን ገንዝብ መልሰዋል።

የሆነ ሆኖ ለጉባኤው ሶስት ቀናት ሲቀሩት ሲኣን/መድረክ የጠራውን ህዝባዊ ጉባኤ ማካሄጃ ኣዳራሽ በገዥው ፓርቲ ተጽዕኖ ማጣቱን በመግለጽ ያለውን ሁኔታ በተመለከተ ጋዜጣዊ መግለጫ ለመስጠት በመዘጋጀት ላይ እያለ ከሲዳማ ዞን ኣስተዳደር “እኛ እንደእናንተ ኣንሆንም” የምል መልዕክት ኣክሎበት የሲዳማ ባህል ኣዳራሽን እንዲጠቀሙ በስልክ መፈቀዱን ታውቋል።

ከዚህ ሁሉ ትግል በኃላ መሰብሰቢያ ኣዳራሽ ብገኝም በሃዋሳ ከተማ ኣስተዳደር ገዥው ፓርቲ ለክፍለ ከተማ እና ቀበሌ ካድሬዎች ኣበል በመክፈል የሲኣን ኣባላትን 1 5 ኣደረጃጀት በስራ እንደያዙ በማድረግ በጉባኤው ላይ እንዳይሳተፉ ኣድርገዋል።

ከዚህም ባሻገር ጉባኤውን በተመለከተ በሃዋሳ ከተማ ውስጥ ቅስቀሳ እንዳይካሄድ እና ስለ ጉባኤው የሚያትቱ በራሪ ወረቀቶች እንዳይስራጩ የከተማዋ ፖሊሶች ኣድርገዋል።

በተመሳሳይ በሲዳማ ዞን የወረዳ እና የቀበሌ ኮሚቴዎች የሲኣን ኣባላት በጉባኤው ላይ እንዳይሳተፉ በማስፈራራት እና 1 5 ኣደረጃጀትን በመጠቀም በስራ የማጥመድ ስራ ስርተዋል።

የሆነ ሆኖ የሲኣን/መድረክ ኣባላት እና ደጋፊዎች የገዥውን ፓርቲ ተጽዕኖ በመቋቋም በህዝባዊ ጉባኤው ላይ በመሳተፋቸው ጉባኤ በተያዘው ፕሮግራም መሰረት ያለምንም ችግር በተሳካ መክሉ መካሄዱን ሪፖርተራችን ጥቻ ወራና ዘግቧል።