Menelik II’s mutilation of breasts of women and girls, and of hands of men and boys is the first one in warfare throughout written history – from antiquity to modern times, unless proven to the contrary. Those who support Menelik’s genocide at Aannolee, Azulee & Calanqoo as a “holy war” or as a war of “reunification of Ethiopia” should hold full entitlement to it.
During the campaign of colonization of the south in the late nineteenth-century, king Menelik II of Abyssinia exterminated the Oromo population by 50%, Kaficho by 75%, Gimira by 80% and Madii by over 90% (according to Radio Simbirtuu’s interview with Prof. Mekuria Bulcha, 19 December 2013, Part 2). These are genocides of highest proportions. The basic argument of the Abyssinian genocide deniers has, however, remained the same as always: “it never happened; the term ‘genocide’ does not apply; it is a ‘reunification of Ethiopia’.” Recently, the tactics of the deniers of Menelik II’s genocide has been shifted from “reunification of Ethiopia” to “holy war.”
Abyssinians always avoid public discourse of the genocide at Aannolee, Azulee and Chalanqoo – believing that sooner or later, in the course of time, that generation would pass from the scene, and their children would become acculturated and assimilated in the Abyssinian way of life and Abyssinian political thought, and then the issue of genocide dies out and will be forgotten. However, what the Abyssinians forgot or failed to understand – is that the genocide at Aannolee, Azulee and Chalanqoo shapes not only the outlook of the immediate victims of the generation of the time, but also of subsequent generations of the future. It is very important for the descendants of the perpetrators, i.e. the deniers of the genocide on Oromo – to engage introspection to face and learn from their own history. It is time for the Nafxanyaas – the deniers of genocide to ask themselves a question as to how that gross mass genocide could have occurred, instead of denying it and trying to maintain a false righteous self-image.
The Abyssinians are unable or unwilling to deal with the truth. They have always refused to recognize the crimes committed against the peoples of the south, Oromo included, as genocide. Instead, they elevated it to the level of a “holy war/qidus xorrinnat,” then took pride in it – identified with it; enthusiastically embraced it; glorified and glamorized it. This campaign is in support of their political and religious elites, scholars, governments, institutions, and individuals – those who have been preaching the genocide committed against Oromos and the south as a “reunification of Ethiopia.”
The New and Present Genocide on Oromo, and Tigrayans’ Attempt to Deny It
Today, the Tigrayan regime is behind the discussion of the past genocide to divert attention from itself while it is committing genocide itself more dangerous than that of the past ones. It has undertaken open and total war campaign against the Oromo people. It is vitally important, therefore, that we should focus our attention on current genocide the Tigrayan regime is committing while, at the same time, reminding ourselves of the genocide that the Amhara regime of Menelik II committed a century ago. The Amharas have been denying the genocide against the Oromo and other southern peoples that their regime of Menelik II committed, and now the Tigrayans are also denying the genocide that their regime is committing.
The Amharas are simply dancing and singing to the ghost of Menelik II, but they do not possess the means and capabilities to commit anther genocide. Today, it is the Tigrayan regime led by TPLF that is committing genocidal mass murders against the Oromo people; it is this regime that possesses the means and capabilities to commit genocide. Its means are the army, paramilitary unit, the police force, the special police or Liyyuupolice, secret state agents, death squads, the bureaucratic and judicial systems. All of these are already fully utilized for this purpose.
The sudden descend of the Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) upon Oromiyaa in 1991 set in a rapid motion a process to eliminate any opposition to its rule that culminate in the arrests, tortures and killings. Then, since 1992, it has been carrying out systematic, methodical, pre-planned, and centrally-organized genocidal mass murders against the Oromo people. Meles Zenawi was the notorious architect and organizer of the policy of the genocide on Oromo with his culprits and other thousands of perpetrators of genocide – who are still implementing his policy after his death. His brutality against the Oromo people has surpassed that of all his predecessors combined. His regime has erected concentration camps across Oromiyaa; camps, such as Hursoo, Bilaattee, Dhidheessaa, Zuwaay, and Qalittii, are the well known ones. But, numerous other clandestine prison cells, where the victims are eliminated, have been established across the empire. The regime has openly undertaken a major Oromiyaa-wide persecutions of Oromos. Hence, ordinary people, for the first time, being rounded up and sent to these clandestine centers for interrogations through torture. In the torture, few survived and many perished.
The pattern of destruction has been repeated over and over in different parts of Oromiyaa. Many of these repetitive destruction are far from the major cities; such repetition are a centrally design one. Further, a reward structure is set in place. That reward is geared towards those who implement the policy. The regional governors and officials, who refuses to carry out orders to annihilate the Oromo, are summarily replaced as disloyal and OLF agents. Community leaders are arrested and persecuted. Many women, children, and elderly run into forests and deserts to escape slaughters. Today, the Oromo people are in violent historical moment. They are the target of the Tigrayan regime for physical exterminations and forcible removal from their lands. Hundreds of thousands have been killed; millions have been forced out from their lands; and their lands haven been sold or leased to local and multinational land-grabbers.
The Tigrayan regime has fully undertaken the implementation of the policy of Oromo exterminations since 1992. The Amhara genocidal deniers are fully subscribed to this policy. In the Tigrayan regime’s jails, millions of Oromos perished as the result of starvation, diseases, the harsh environments, and physical exterminations.
We are the nation of heroes, heroines and victims. We were the victims of genocide yesterday, and we are the victims of genocide today. Yesterday, we were victims of genocide under Amhara successive regimes, and today, we are victims of genocide under the Tigrayan regime. Indeed, we are a wounded and bled nation in our country by another nation – the Abyssinian nation.
We oftentimes say, never again to genocide in Oromiyaa. We say, the seeds of Aannolee, Azulee and Chalanqoo must not be allowed to sprout again in Oromiyaa. And yet, it has already sprouted; violence is again around us; violence of genocide is still consuming our people. Menelik’s genocide at Aannolee, Azulee and Chalanqoo is reconstructed and renewed by Meles Zenawi, and implemented Oromiyaa wide. Hence, the past genocide has now become the present new genocide. Hence, the dead Oromo are still dead; more are still dying; expropriated Oromoland is still expropriated; the pillaging of Oromiyaa is at its height, and the colonized Oromiyaa is still colonized.
The Way Forward
The way forward is Oromo nationalists’ unity and the fight against occupation. For this, it is important to rebuild the Oromo Liberation Army (OLA) as a superior mighty force, both in quantity and quality, to protect the population and secure liberation. This enables the nation to drive out the Tigrayan regime and establish the independent Democratic Republic of Oromiyaa. Again, it is vitally important to remove Menelik’s statue from Oromiyaa, and establish the National Memorial Day of the Genocide on Oromo for the victims of Aannolee, Azulee and Chalanqoo. This National Memorial Day of the Genocide on Oromo should be established and observed annually while we are still fighting for independence. The date and the month must be different from the Oromo Martyrs’ Day/Guyyaa Gootoota Oromoo.
No one escapes from the history of one’s people. For this, we should and must not allow the past to rest and to be forgotten. Every generation must teach the succeeding generation about the past history, their heroes and heroines. The past, the present as well as the future belong to the succeeding generations. Each new generation hold the entitlement of the past and the present. For this, the establishment of the National Memorial Day of the Genocide on Oromo is the order of the day that the marks of Aannolee, Azulee and Chalanqoo cannot be erased from the memory of successive Oromo generations.
Oromiyaa Shall Be Free!
* Leenjiso Horo can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org