Can Ambo Unite Us? By Solomon Kebede

This past week, we have witnessed one of the most heartbreaking incidents perpetrated on our people in Ambo and other areas of Oromia Region by the ruling junta. The TPLF-led brutal and repressive regime in Ethiopia has used and is still using a very brutal force against peaceful student demonstrators and civilian population.
This is not the first time that the TPLF murdered Ethiopians en mass in different parts of the country. The regime came to power by gun and maintained its grip to power by gun. It walked all its way to the Capital by killing and has kept up killing peaceful and civilian citizens as its way of governance. The atrocious acts of TPLF/EPRDF have affected every part of our country and there is not any region or village from north to south and east to west that has not been affected.
Just in the early days of its rule in early 1990’s, the TPLF/EPRDF started to pull out what it has in pocket one after the other. The first to taste the vicious and barbaric handling of the regime were members of the former armed forces, and we all remember what happened to them for defending their country. Next, the regime declared war in Oromia that resulted in arbitrary murder, detention and disappearances of several thousands of innocent citizens. The massacres in different areas of Eastern and Western Hararge and Arsi are good examples for this. Further, tens of thousands are still suffering in overt and covert prisons while many others have perished in prisons and detention centers. About the same time, the regime also embarked upon its other peculiar character – inciting conflicts between different sects of our society such as interethnic conflict. This has affected many in Arsi, Hararge, Borana, Guji etc and is still going on.
Next the TPLF brutal hands reached Hawassa (Loque) in May of 2002 when the regime solders fired at a mass of peaceful demonstrators and gunned down some 70 innocent citizens cold blooded. This was followed by the Annuak massacre in Gambella region of December 2003 in which more than 400 innocent people were murdered in a single day by TPLF soldiers and by direct order from the then prime minister. However, we the Ethiopian people were not able to stand and respond together in any of these and this fact emboldened the regime to do more. Accordingly, following the election crisis of 2005, the regime massacred hundreds of innocent citizens, of which the regime itself admitted to have murdered 193, in Addis Ababa alone. Furthermore, the Ogaden area has been put under all out war and ethnic cleansing for years and we have been reading and hearing of cruel crimes against humanity in that region. Then came the case of our brothers and sisters who happen to be Muslims. Simply because our Muslim brothers and sisters did not like the government’s interference in religious affairs consistent with the principles of the religion, we all witnessed the sufferings and ordeals they have gone through. Many Ethiopian Muslims were murdered in various places such as Wollo and Arsi (Asasa) while many others including religious leaders have been arrested and subjected to torture and various abuses. Moreover, the TPLF cruelty has reached various areas in Gojam, Gondar, Tigray, Afar and others. Just few days ago, for instance, five innocent Ethiopians were murdered while several more were injured in Gendaweha, Gondar, by the cruel federal police. The attack by TPLF on Ethiopians is multifaceted and includes extrajudicial killings, detentions, displacements from lands, disappearance etc.
However, in all of these incidents, we have never acted in unison to the extent that can make a difference though we all have felt the pains. By doing that we gave the TPLF a very convenient ground so that it can do any thing it wants to without any problem. Moreover, by doing this, we legitimized the TPLF’s divisive strategy. The regime told us that what happens in one region is up to that same region and we kind of approved it. Even at this very time when the regime is most hated throughout the country, we are still not ready to deny it the chance to fool us.
TPLF/EPRDF has carefully designed and implemented the divide- and-rule strategy on us. The strategy has worked very successfully and, as a result, the regime is harvesting the fruit. The regime is also confident that we remain divided and conquered, and hopes to continue this for indefinite time. I acknowledge the legitimate concerns emanating from the different political views and lines we pursue. However, TPLF has manipulated that difference more than what it really is in order to make it more productive for itself. Our division has given the regime an opportunity to play cards by adhering to one group when it deviates from the other. I urge us to move beyond this and focus on common enemy – the TPLF. Why? Because unless we come together and stand together, we will all remain preys for TPLF and be taken care of one by one.

The current question of the Oromo students is purely about democratic rights and freedom, and is not related to any political organization or view as the TPLF tries to portray. Their main question is why such a life threatening decision for millions of our people around Addis Ababa was made without any consultation with them and where and when will the land grab and sale stop. Land grab and displacement of indigenous people is not new to Oromia. The students have practical information about what happens to those displaced from their lands. In addition, the cumulative effects of brutality, human rights violations, corruption, poor social services, racist policies, inflation and hard living conditions under this government have fueled the peaceful protests. All the major questions they were raising were relating to these and there is no doubt that these are the questions of the entire Ethiopian people. They raised our own questions. Questions deviating from this general trend were very few and only heard on limited occasions. Even in those limited occasions, partly they were purposely introduced into the demonstrations by security agents of the ruling regime to change the course of the protests. Therefore, those things do not characterize this student protest in any way.
Those student protests were peaceful demonstrations without any violence, but they were met with brutality that included shooting, beating and detentions in unspecified places and numbers. In Ethiopia, we all know what an arrest in the hands of TPLF means- it means severe torture that results in permanent or life threatening disability and, in some cases, life long disappearance. International media such as the BBC reported that the town of Ambo alone suffered 47 deaths and hundreds of injuries while local sources put the death toll to over 50. There are more casualties in Guder, Tikur Inchini, Nekemte, Haromaya etc and the arrest and abuse of innocent citizens is widely going on. These are our innocent brothers and sisters who took penalties for trying to use their democratic and constitutional rights. We must unite for Ambo and rally together to demand that such vicious acts stop, all arrested people be released immediately and unconditionally, and the perpetrators brought to justice. We will be voices for those voiceless young school kids who were murdered in the streets and others who are detained en mass. However, we should not unite to only mourn our losses this time. No mourning and no eulogy can comfort the parents of Ambo, whose young school kids were recently massacred in front of their eyes, and the people of Ethiopia in general as getting rid of this evil regime. The cycle of mourning must end. Let us join the Oromia students and get rid of this blood-thirsty regime. Enough is enough. TPLF/EPRDF must go. Can Ambo be a turning point?


  1. uniting under a negative idea never been a source of strength. We must take a good lesson from this incident and move on. We can learn from African countries who are always engulfed by internal conflict that lead to poverty. On the other side, we can learn from Japan, Korea, England, and USA , and other western countries , who avoided internal conflict that led them to prosperity. Ethiopians can choose our own poison , of course.

  2. The Ambo mob was too emotional that divide us than unite us. They selectively damage non-oromo businesses insigated by hate politics and their demands were more of an age old retoric installed by SHABIA and WOyane than democracy for all. Sad to be again at this stage.

  3. As much as I have my dislike for Lenccoo Latta, I also believe making him part of the quest for a common solution in our country is a positive move. This guy is the only person who can understand the benefit of a common solution. All the rest so called politicians in the Oromo leadership are sleep walking in their politics apart from Jawar Mohamed who happens to be too you young to play a cool politics.
    Dimmaa Naga’o and Bayaan Assooba Also capable men of doing something of meaningful politics. Forget all the rest. So I advise the Ethiopian elites to explore this path. If we remain with prayers and no action towards working with eeach other nothing falls from the sky.

  4. You are one of the toxic politicians who want us to be blinded by your piece of trash. Dude the truth is that Ambo will rather divide us for what Ambo Oromos did to Amharas and non Oromo Ethiopians, they targeted mainly innocent AMHARA people and their properties and it is really shame for the people of Ambo and the case of Ambo will further divide us unless the Oromo Elites stop preaching their hate and false propaganda against the over 20 million ethnic AMHARA people who has been patience for the last 40 years in the face of attacks, killings and displacement of Amharas by Oromos and these kings and attacks might ignite ethnic conflict among the two Ethinics so far Oromo Elites took the patience of AMHARA people as a fear but no mistake AMHARA are not coward they are silent for the seek of peaceful coexistence however OLF could not understand and the Time for Amharas to say Enough is coming and by then Oromo people will realize they were mistaken and it could belate please Oromo elites come to ur sense before it is really too late

    • listen, have you ever thought about TPLF burning down the properties of other ethnic groups to make a point for those who think just like you do? Not that it won’t happen under any condition, but if at all it could have happened, it might have happened to Tigrayan businesses outfits in the community because one or two souls may believe they are the ruling party’s click planted there to spy on them. On Tigrayan people: The Tigrayan Ethiopians have nothing to do with the ruling party. The mass is no different than other Ethiopians. I also doubt if today’s cultured, university Oromo students are blind not to understand the impact of economic repercussions should they burn down the employment providing businesses in the community. I am born only 15 kilometers away from Ambo town. Though times have changed a lot, the hospitalities and the nature of our people in that vicinity, I am told, still remains earthly. They have no stamina for such blatant violations. These are TPLF borne political particles meant to be consumed by shallow thinkers (not meant at you please) .

  5. I read that many of you here mentioned that the Ambo incident targeted non-Oromo properties. That is not correct at all.
    First of all, it was not the objective of the protest and the protesters to target any property. The protest was totally peaceful on the first day when university students marched to the city and back to campus without any problem. On the day of the violence as well, the protest was peaceful initially. However, as the protest was getting strength, EPRDF itself opted to injecting pre-prepared violent groups into the demonstration to change the course of the movement. It was not the intention of the students nor was it that of the Ambo people to burn down properties. But the TPLF-assigned secret agents started burning and robbing.
    Second, it is not true that non-Oromos were targeted. The properties damaged were not only of non-Oromos. For example, the biggest hotel in Ambo, Abebech Metaferia Hotel, belongs to Mrs Abebech Metaferia, who is an Oromo from West Shoa. That hotel was badly damaged, and probably it was the first one to be attacked. I know the hotel personally. It is sad this happened to it though. There were many other properties damaged that belong to Government, Oromo, Amhara, etc. We must consider a couple of facts here. First, when such unexpected things occur, it affects any body’s property without discrimination. Second, as we know, the ruling party wants to incite conflicts between different ethnic groups. Therefore, the government may deliberately attack people from one ethnic group to attribute it to the other.

  6. Hiram your name explains who you are, what I just say to u is that you are chicken headed

  7. I have been a university student in Ethiopia and know how students struggle for the Ethiopian poor before. Before us, there were students happened to be from the royal family died for this noble cause. Nevertheless, I have never heard an event had taken place in Ethiopia as what happened in Ambo, where half the students went out to struggle for the people whereas the other half in disarray because of the concern for their life and took shelter in Churches against their very comrades violence nature. When was the last time before Ambo one group of Ethiopian students were leaving the campus due to concern of crime against them by their very classmates? I don’t remember! Ethiopian students were fighting for all deprived people of all corners. If the cause was justified, I see no justification others would not be part of it. Period!! These are kids raised by Ethiopian government with poison in their bottle! Unless their realize the good for all by taking the right antidote, we will not go anywhere. If we think for the real OROMO people we all know, show him how he can eat enough, combat poverty and work for a better life. That should be the bottom line! We should earn our respect as university student by working for all the people. You like it or not, you are representing the best face of what that poor county can produce. It is sad to see one group is struggling for some part of the country. Those of you who are facilitating violence sitting in the luxury of what another country provides you should stop. Do not overwhelm yourself by hatred and don’t play the same card the government plays. Most of us came here for better life not with the intention of eagerness to practice our free speech. So wish a better like for your fellow Ethiopian.

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