Full Speech of the OLF Representative, Dr. Shigux Geleta, on the Frankfurt Horn of African Solidarity Conference

January 20, 2014

shigutspeechDear Mr. Chairman,

Dear Honorable Representatives of the People’s Front for Democracy and Justice (PFDJ) and the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF), and beloved members of the Oromo, Ogadenian and Eritrean communities as a whole! It is a great privilege and honor for me to be among you today representing the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF).  First of all, I would like to express my deepest gratitude to the Organizing Committee for having organized such a timely and important conference supposed to assess the social, political and economic situations of the Horn of Africa with a special emphasis on the Ethiopian empire.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The Oromo-Ogaden and Eritrean Solidarity, such as the one we see today here in Frankfurt, did not emanate overnight or out of naught. It has rather had its own history and raison d’etre in our distant history of struggles for freedom against the oppression and subjugation we commonly had suffered, and are still suffering, under the Ethiopian empire.  Indeed, I believe that the Oromo-Ogaden-Eritrean solidarity is deeply rooted in the hearts of our respective peoples who continually aspire through their struggles to restore their inalienable right to the right to self-determination. No doubt, each people has its own separate history and social identity – in accordance to which it articulates the specificity of its problems, and hence propose their solutions accordingly. However, those specificities can never override the common experience of colonial oppression, and therefore, the necessity of solidarity among different freedom-seeking peoples. Freedom for each is pre-determined by freedom for all, and vice-versa. Such mutuality and reciprocity lies at the core principle of the type of solidarity I am talking about.

Though the Eritrean people have already counted two decades of freedom and sovereignty, it is precisely because of this basic principle that the Eritrean people and government still remain in solidarity with the Oromos, Ogadenians and other oppressed nations and nationalities. Its freedom will not be a full-fledged one without the freedom of other oppressed peoples of the region, because the security and political stability in Eritrea are unthinkable without peace and justice in the region as a whole. Therefore, the urge and strife for people’s freedom would remain to be the ultimate explanation for the relentless support the Eritrean state has been giving to the Oromo liberation struggle. The Oromo, Ogaden and Eritrean solidarity is a matter of categorical imperative to the political will of the region, and the Horn of Africa in general – not just an accidental phenomenon that lies in the whim of their respective politicians.

Honorable representatives and all participants of the conference,

Our common march to freedom, equality and justice is just like traveling on a big ship which sails on the vast open ocean to a common destiny. Not only do we need to ascertain where we are traveling to, but also the conditions of the ship and the possible obstructions it may face, be it natural or technical, so that the ship not only arrive at the point of its original and final destination safely, but also smoothly and punctually. This is an analogy that best describes for me the common march of the Oromo-Ogden and other oppressed peoples in the Ethiopian empire to freedom as they are progressing in their endeavor to build and shape a more stable, democratic and prosperous society. As much as the sailing journey is dependent on many unforeseeable natural calamities, human and technical failures, our common march to freedom can never be smooth, calculable or guaranteed against all odds. As experience has repetitively shown us, our journey has always been with many ups and downs which would often result with forth and backward movements in our struggle.

frankBetrayal in the course of Ethiopian politics has been observed several times in our protracted struggle. In 1991, for example, the mediating international community promised solidarity with our struggle as it heralded the famous motto “No Democracy; No Support.” But sooner than the ink, with which the Transitional Charter had been written, dried, the Western World turned, as you all know – deaf ear and blind eye to the catastrophic aftermath of the failure of the Transitional Agreement. The so-called international community was not alone in such a betrayal. Even our neighboring countries, such as Kenya, Sudan and Djibouti, did the same by having subsequently handed over our veterans to the EPRDF government. In due course of time, we were even betrayed by our own members as the balance of force kept tilting to the side of the TPLF/EPRDF.

Despite all the odds and the calamities we had had to be through, our determination and resilience to the struggle for freedom have been gathering its momentum through the immense sacrifices the Oromo Liberation Army [OLA/WBO] and the Oromo youth have been paying back at home. By contrast, we, Oromos in Diaspora, need to critically assess ourselves in respect to the minimum national duties we are expected to fulfill on our part. We need to be reflective as to whether we have done, and are doing, all what we can do in protecting and safeguarding, at least, the achievements of those sacrifices. We need to learn from our past mistakes not to repeat history. Today, we need, more than ever, to resolutely work and endeavor to be the masters of our own destiny rather than simply waiting and hoping someone else to accomplish our own duties.

Today, our peoples are in a period of transition. It is a transition from self-awareness as a nation towards self-realizing as a social agent of change towards achieving a more stable, prosperous and democratic system for the entire region – without relinquishing one’s own ideals and national identities. As history has taught us, a period like this is indeed full of sensitive and critical problems, which can often result in a setback and the deterioration of the nation’s living conditions. It is in this situation that social instability would result and would further precipitate chaotic and disorderly behaviors even amongst freedom-seeking nations themselves. Such a period could even be more dangerous when the stronger or superior sides are forcing their own will by repressive mechanisms.  Accordingly, today, our nations are challenged with varied, complex and multifaceted problems in the areas of politics, economy, social affairs, and security and environmental conservation.

Therefore, taking this opportunity, I would like to extend our call again to stand shoulder to shoulder in the face of the larger common goal of eradicating the horrendous oppressive system of the Ethiopian empire, and to ascertain freedom, liberty, justice, and peace for our peoples and the Horn as well. Needless to stress the fact that only people’s freedom and liberation can guarantee for peace and stability in the region.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

In what follows, I would like to shed a light on how the TPLF-led EPRDF has ruled with iron feast for the last 22 years. It created in the 1990s a form of “indirect rule” based on the official definition of ethnicity. Organizationally, the TPLF has managed the full control over EPRDF. It has systematically pushed out viable opposition forces out of the legal political playing field. Key positions in the national defense force and security have been overwhelmingly occupied by Tigrayans. Finally, they have managed to build one of the strongest armies in Africa, not only to smash down any opposition force in the country, but also to keep and guard “security and stability” in other African states, such as the ones it has sent to Rwanda, Liberia, Sudan,  Somalia and South Sudan in the name of “peace-keeping forces.” In having done so, it has used the opportunity in portraying itself as the best partner of the West in fighting international terrorism. Mind you! Its achievements are two-fold at a stroke. While it is consolidating its military power and dominance in the region on the one hand; it is simultaneously using this very act as a source of securing international financial support and legitimacy, on the other. By the same token, it puts all IGAD [the Intergovernmental Authority on Development] member-countries under its influence either by cross-border raids or trade ties, such us promoting the electric power. It hires foreign consultants in Brussels, London, Washington D.C. and New York for the purpose of lobbying its repressive political system to the Western governments. It sells fertile land of Oromia and the South to foreigners, and uses its subversive action as a diplomatic leverage. It has bought and penetrated oppositions with money, and tries to attract the Diaspora with minor/petty benefits. Despite all these, it has never succeeded to defeat our liberation struggle. On the contrary, we are vigilant, resilient and determined in our struggle more than ever. Today, we are progressively getting better militarily. As I have already mentioned, the Oromo Liberation Army [OLA/WBO] is very much visible in its consistent operations in the entire Oromia region, including the central one, directly, adjacent to the capital city Finfinne/Addis Ababa. General civil unrest and mass movements have been underway for quite sometime thanks to the Oromo Youth, known as Qeerroo, which is getting progressively support from all other social sectors beyond the youth.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

frnakFinally, our struggle for democracy, freedom and self-determination stands at a historic juncture where it is gathering and consolidating its momentum in determining not only our separate destinies, but also the course of history for the entire region in the future. As I have already mentioned elsewhere, as an Oromo nation and the Oromo Liberation Front, we believe that our alliances with all oppressed peoples, progressive democratic forces and peace-seeking neighboring countries in the region are strategically important in the drive towards freedom, peace and stability for the Horn. The struggle for freedom will be concluded when the right to self-determination is realized, and the choice of the people is implemented and respected. In this regard we have to be cautious not to make unforgivable failure by deciding ourselves the outcome of a people’s choice that affects the existence of the right to make a choice. The outcome of our people’s referendum should not be a subject of a political discussion as we witness today. In respect to this principal position of the OLF, I recommend my fellow Oromos to see not things in their mundane existence, but in their interrelationships – not in their snapshot appearance, but in their contextual essence as part and parcel of a larger process.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The politics of alliance demands identifying reliable partners, articulating and undertaking common objectives to be achieved and cultivating mutual trust to achieve further consolidation of unity at yet higher level. Interests based on geographic proximity, cultural ties, complementary economy, suffering the same fate of subjugation are all factors that make the Oromo and other oppressed peoples of the south natural allies. This shouldn’t be misused by lack of skills and foresight on both sides. EPRDF is skilled in instigating ethnic conflicts. The ongoing savage act of “the Somali kilil liyyuu tor” [the Special Military-Police of the Somali Region in Ethiopia] on Oromos (in the Mayyoo, Fadiis, Miidhagaa Lolaa, Cinaaksan, Baabbilee areas of east Oromia and farther south in Diida of the Borana zone) is just a case in point. Our vanguard organizations, and both Oromo and Ogaden elders, need to work hard to stop such bloodshed orchestrated by our common enemy, the TPLF.

I should unmistakably emphasize that we, Oromos, have no animosity towards any other people in the region except that we are against the oppressive and repressive system in the Ethiopian empire. We all know that governmental systems are temporal as a matter of historical necessity. However, peoples and their relations to one another remain eternal, in fact, often bonded by common destiny. It is based on this basic fact that we insist on the need and importance of solidarity among our peoples if they are to achieve freedom, justice, prosperity and peace in the region as a whole. An enduring and lasting peace can only be achieved through justice that confers each people with the right to self-determination – a fundamental principle of voluntarism, free choice based contractual conception of society upon which all modern democracies are established.

As a result, let us stand together; unite our efforts against the EPRDF regime; and support each other and work hard in collaboration to achieve our dream for freedom.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Let me conclude my speech with a reminding announcement to my Oromo fellows and, of course, friends of the Oromo:

As I suppose you all know, January-First is a multifaceted anniversary for OLF members and supporters, and the Oromo people at large. It was decided as a date of anniversary for the Oromo Liberation Army [OLA/WBO] in 1979, and it was first celebrated in 1980. Since then, it has always been celebrated by all freedom-loving Oromos around the world. The historical background to this choice is shortly as follows: In November 1973 J/ Elemo Qilxuu and his comrades took Chercher as a guerrilla base to fight against the colonial yoke, and in September 1974 they began to combat against the Emperor’s army, but the armed struggle was terminated for a while, and again started in 1976. It was endangered in 1978 and recovered in 1979. As a result of such hazardous situations encountered by the OLA, January 1st was selected to be the anniversary day of OLA. Since January 1st of 1980, it has been celebrated as the Day of OLA and New Year. Once again, I congratulate you for the Day of OLA and wish you a happy New Year.

Thank you for your attention,

Long Live OLA!

Freedom and Justice Shall Prevail!

The Struggle for Freedom Shall Continue until Victory!

Honor and Glory for the Fallen Heroines!

Thank you,

January 04, 2014
Frankfurt am Main, Germany


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