by Hubataa Dubbii
November 19, 2016
I had a chance to review the Atlanta Convention “Oromo Charter of Freedom, Justice, Dignity and Peace” a.k.a. “North America diaspora Oromo Freedom Charter” which starts “We, The Oromo people in the diaspora, declare and reaffirm for all our people and other Ethiopians [besides Oromos] …” - basically declaring that “Oromos are Ethiopians” ignoring the fact that Oromos never willingly and voluntarily became Ethiopians but by force of arms thru the process of colonization. Incidentally, no mention was made of the fact that the Oromo are a colonized people in the so called “Charter”.
If you think that is an oversight, think again! No wonder it is rumored that it was rejected by all self-respecting nationalist Oromos who refused to adapt it. My hat’s off to those compatriots who led the charge! But there was no other choice for a true Oromo nationalist because one passing look at the document and there was no mistaking that the whole document was prepared with the Oromo and Oromia remaining part of Ethiopia in mind. The Ethiopian regime, for example, is described as “authoritarian” NOT a colonial regime. By complaining about denial by the regime of “Self-governance in the federal dispensation…” this charter accepts the current federal arrangement – an ODF’s and OFC’s position. It even talks about “[Oromo language shall be one of the co-equal languages of Ethiopia] …” Calling for “Self-rule, democracy, social Justice and freedom…” for the Oromo people within the Ethiopian state and advocating for “a commitment to a democratic state…” of Ethiopia the conveners sought to sell their political position (that Oromia remain part of Ethiopia). Contrary to their claim of convening the meeting to hold a national consultation with respect to the wish of the people, their “charter” spoke for only one option: the reaming of Oromia a part of the Ethiopian emipre.
The section “Language and linguistic justice”, if implemented, would truly turn back achievements gained by sweat and blood of our compatriots. Here is how the document reads: “Oromia shall be committed to linguistic justice … Municipal and district level governments may use any particular language for the purpose of government … taking into account … preference of the population.” In other words, all cities settled mostly by others (non-Oromos) would not use Afaan Oromo for official government functions but what the population prefers. Given such an option, what language would you think the mostly non-oromo dwellers choose? Afaan Oromoo? Yea, right! Amharic, of course! I would suspect even the OPDO would not accept, much less propose such a travesty! If this charter sees the light of day, Afaan Oromoo would be relegated to Oromia rural areas while Amharic would become the language of Oromia cities such as Finfinee, Jimma, Bishoftu, Naqamte, Mattu etc. Every proud and self-respecting nationalist Oromo should reject, unequivocally, this proposal designed to turn back our gain to please the habasha and Western governments that are very likely funding these conventions.
Another terrible clause in the so-called charter is that “[Oromo] Land use and administration policies are subject to arrangements agreed upon with the other peoples of Ethiopia ...” May I ask why the conveners of the meeting propose the Oromo should seek other peoples’ agreement to develop policies on the use and administration of their own resources – specifically land – when Oromo people in Oromia are dying fighting for “abbaa biyyummaa” chanting “Oromiyaan kan Oromooti!”?
But, this is one of the problems when a few in the diaspora, living in one continent half the world away from ground zero for decades and lacking experience in realpolitick or governance believes it can draft and adapt a “freedom charter” on behalf of a 40+ million people nation like the Oromo. They lose touch with those in the front of the struggle back home, copy a freedom charter from another struggle from a different era, and attempt to adapt on behalf of the people. This is the same group that has been preaching for a long time against the idea of leading the struggle via a remote control from the diaspora but hypocritically would have us believe they can do so where others have failed.
Give me a break!
All proud and self-respecting Oromo nationalists should reject defeatist shenanigans in the diaspora and work for a free and independent Oromia. Other nations with less population and resources have achieved independence. There is no doubt, Oromia shall be sovereign and separate from Ethiopia in every way and its people shall be free. It is only a question of time.