Arrest of a powerful politician hasn’t stopped Ethiopians’ protests against government

Jawar Mohammed, the then activist, and now politician and media mogul, led the 2015-2018 Oromo protests that finally brought down the regime of the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF). But he has been put behind bars by the government, which, he, along with millions of Oromos, brought to power, on charges of instigating conflicts following the assassination of Hachalu Hindessa, an Oromo singer and activist.

A well-versed, charismatic, and eloquent activist, Jawar organized “Qeerroos,” a word for young people in Oromo language, to protest the Addis Ababa Master Plan, a government project that would have expanded the capital city’s territories into the surrounding Oromia region. To this end, he effectively used social media particularly Facebook, Twitter, and mainstream news media such as Oromia Media Network to disseminate information about the protests to millions of Oromo Ethiopians both at home and abroad.

In August 2018, Jawar moved back to Ethiopia after Abiy Ahmed took power. Prime Minster Abiy and Lema Megersa, the then president of the Oromia region, and now minister of the Ministry of Defense, asked Jawar to help them with transitioning the country into democracy. Multiples sources indicate they even offered to give him a ministerial position if he agrees to be a member of their political party, but he declined the offer saying he would rather help them from outside.

Jawar Mohammed’s home coming was celebrated with a big ceremony attended by high government officials including President Lemma Megersa and Takele Uma, mayor of Addis Ababa City, at the Millennium Hall. He was received into the auditorium by tens of thousands of his cheering supporters. Some were seen wiping tears rolling down their face out of happiness and disbelief.

In his speech punctuated with rounds of applauses almost every minute, Jawar announced that he came back home to help the country to transition to democracy. He caught thousands in the hall and millions watching him live on TV by surprise at the end of his speech when he awarded Lema Megersa a laptop computer he said he was using to organize the protests.

Jawar Mohamed changed his political course last year when the government allegedly attempted to remove his security details. The news of the incident prompted protests which led to the death of at least 86 people across Oromia. Jawar accused the government of exposing his life to risk. A few months later, he announced his decision to join the Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC), one of the strongest political parties in Ethiopia.

Once he joined OFC, Jawar intensified his criticism of Abiy Ahmed’s policies. Particularly, he accused the prime minister of trying to restore the old feudal system, a nightmare for the Oromo people and other nations and nationalities in Ethiopia. He also criticized the government for postponing the national elections due to the COVID-19 pandemic. He said political solution which should come out of discussion among all stakeholders was the only option. However, the government opted for what is called, the “constitutional amendment.”

The Abiy Ahmed’s government arrested Jawar Mohammed, Bekele Gerba and other political leaders on June 29 following the assassination of Hachalu Hundessa, an Oromo singer and activist. It accused them of using force to return the body of Hachalu Hundessa, which was on its way to Ambo, back to Addis Ababa. Jawar Mohammed and other leaders deny the charge.

Many people are wondering the real reason behind Jawar Mohammed’s arrest. Some say it was part of the government’s plan to get rid of strong politicians who pose a challenge to its power. Others say it’s part of the scheme particularly by Abiy Ahmed to retaliate against a politician who bitterly criticize him nonstop. Yet, others suspect that the arrest has to do with the fear that he may lead protests across the country to overthrow the government following the killing of Hachalu Hundessa.

However, the arrest of Jawar Mohammed hasn’t stopped the ongoing protest across Oromia. It just became another reason to continue their oppositions to the government. “Free Jawar and all Oromo political leaders” has made to the list of slogans protestors hold during rallies and post on their Facebook walls.

The protesters have now shifted to market and transportation boycott. Many fear that this will make the life tough for businesses and city dwellers. In the long term, it may even put the already weak economy of the country at risk.

There is no doubt that Jawar Mohammed is capable of posing a big challenge to the government. As astute politician with deep understanding of theories of social movements and someone who gained practical experiences over the years, he will sure shape the future of the Ethiopian politics. He is a change agent and a real hero for millions of his supporters.

Abiy Ahmed, whom many Ethiopians have hoped to transform the country into democracy, has suddenly found himself fighting with his own constituency in Oromia, the largest federal state in the country. Many political commentators are warning that the country may collapse unless the prime minister starts a serious dialogue with all political parties with the aim to address a century-old systemic problems.

17 Comments

  1. Love your work!
    The understanding and clarity you possess about the situation in Oromia and Oromo people(the largest in East Africa) is beyond my imagination! The empire Ethiopia is desperation for the native Oromo nation, you beautifully handle the delicate and complex predicament in Ethiopia. Thank you and looking forward to seeing your next piece.

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  2. The qerros changed the legitimate question of the oromos in to the alshabab and boku haram kind of terror. Now the fight is not only between the qerros against the government but between qerros and the rest of Ethiopian people. The video and audio evidence is presented to the world to see what qerros did in oromia.

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    1. False comment. ..qero never did harmful act to any nation. After assassination of hacaalu there was unrest in oromia which lead to loose of property but people like you orchestrated inhuman and false drama on the people living in my city shashemene as if they killed pregnant women. I swear to God am Protestant in my religion no one was killed due to its religion and i never see any one killed due to that unrest, So please stop orchestrating false news about people living together for centuries and release oromo politicians.

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  3. Abiy Ahmed declared war on the oromo people, because he lost Oromo people support. Jawar Mohammed adevicate more about their cause than him.Instead of fighting for thier vote, he elected to kill Hachalu Hudessa and arrested all positions. It is sad that Ethiopia has go through this vicious cycle every time because of bad leaders like Abiy Ahmed.

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  4. Ethiopia has been known in the bible more than 40 times and it was a place of early Christians.
    Unfortunately, the strong Christian neighborhood in North Africa where Saint Mark born and led a church and Saint Augustine taught bible invaded by radical Muslims and become Muslim region. Ethiopians Christians are persecuted severely during the military Marxist regime and after the fall of that regime there were relatively peace for sometimes despite some attacks at Muslim dominated areas. I the writer is a witness who received death thereat letter from IFLO, a radical group in 1986.This time after the assassination of a political singer in the capital Addis Ababa suburbs, mobs are going home to home taking names of Christians and other Semitics groups members and killed and beheaded the people in a very graphic manner and mutilated the dead bodies so far more than 300 killed.

    The master mind for all these crimes is Jawar Mohammed who once threatening to behead anyone who speaks angst him at a Muslims conference in Minnesota USA. Jawar threatened saying, blood will spill if house in Oromia region outside the capital Addis Ababa is given to people who worked hard to earn it.
    Jawar has been known as the second government in Ethiopia for the last couple of years organizing an Oromo ethnic group called Kero who are blind to receive his message and massacre many innocent people, burning churches and factories and residences targeting Christians.
    Please, be voce of those people in millions who pass each day in terror and there is much more pressure from Muslim countries to release jawar whose at this time jailed after so many instigation of violence in Ethiopia who are the major contributors of Ethiopian hard currency by the employment of poor domestic workers from Ethiopia.
    http://www.spc.rs/eng/genocide_orthodox_christians_and_minorities_ethiopia https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/news/ethnic-violence-in-ethiopia-leaves-churches-burned-and-worshipers-killed https://www.jihadwatch.org/2019/11/ethiopia-muslim-leader-calls-for-beheading-of-christians-then-two-pastors-beheaded

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    1. 😂🤣😂 you need to do your homework better & stop making up “facts”! The Oromo issue in Ethiopia is not Christian vs Muslim because Oromos are Christian & Muslim. Jawar Mohammed is a peaceful activist that stands against injustice! Get a life.

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    2. Moretew,
      Ethiopian is mentioned only 3 times in the New International Version (NIV) corrected in 2017 based on researches of decades. In the New bible, Cush in its all forms (Cush, Kush, Cushites, etc) is mesntioned 57 times. If you want the English electronic copy I can give you one!

      Plus, the Oromo casue is not about religion. It is about democracy, equality and accommedation of diversity and plurality. Forget about your emperial psychological make up. This is a global stage and bring ideas that fit here.

      African Optics, Thank you for your great job! This is the truth, impartial, accurate authentic African value! Keep up the great work!

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    3. Christian oromo have paid many sacrifices, from emotional or physical disability up to death in Ethiopian empire. This not because of our religious view as currently #orthodox_aggregation_church, & other #imperialist are narrating it. The main reason why we have been so is because of our wrong belief that has been inherited and taught through Ethiopian Orthodox church. So far we have followed politically integrated religion, still they told society that Amharic, & ge’ez language were belongs to Adam & Hewan, it is evil to pray and worship in oromic language(Afaan oromoo).We are guided to separate our self from nearby society especially from followers of religion other than orthodox, they are teaching as if they are enemy of us, but actually they are dividing oromo people to weaken our unity. This helped them to expand their aggregative political legacy in the country. Since we have been colonized psychologically & emotionally in the name holy spirit, we are forced to promote imperialist ideology in our mother land Oromia region. So having imperialist ideology, made us vulnerable or exposed us to the chance of being attacked or harmed either physically or emotionally during political instability in Ethiopian empire!
      So, all christian oromo be alert, correct your feudalist ideology, and use your own language in the church even though they discourage you. Then after all thing will be corrected! We will continue disclosing the fact although some FAT HEADS called us APOSTATES!!!

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    4. This is the fake historical narrative from the northern part of Ethiopia, the then called Absinia that doesn’t include the southern parts of Ethiopia.

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  5. Abiy Ahmed you Supposed to give respect for Qeeroo not to arrest them, you suppose to give respect for Jawar Mohammed not to arrest him, you suppose to give respect for Lamaa magersa not to arrest him, you suppose to give respect for All Oromo you not to kill them with out Oromo there is not Power for you if you believe or not
    We need #AllOromoPoliticalPrisoners
    You can’t build like this Ethiopia with out Oromo you will go down just like Dose who pass before you

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    1. African dictators are often followed by other dictators who don’t want to set any precedent for trying holders of high office. Others hold onto power until they die.All the dictators divide the people by religious issues but that’s not the true story the Ethiopian regime always to benefit for killing the people, the Ethiopian regime have been long history to committed crime against the humanity the Ethiopian government or Ethiopian regime start from the most fascist regime was Menelik like the Nazi of Germany , Menelik was the most butcher men in that country he is from Gojjam the Amhara region and also the Amhara people were all have the criminal mentality that against the humanity, after they came to the Oromoo land the looting the human life, actually the Oromoo people were welcomed this Nafxanya or Amhara Mafia group then they trying to destroy the Oromoo Gada system and rule the Oromoo nation until Today and always using atrocities committed crime against the Oromoo people by using the religious political propaganda in our community, the current Ethiopian regime that leading by Abiy Ahmed which is real name is Abiyoot Kasaaye which is came from Gojjam the same background that Menelik came from and also he is trying to use the same atrocity style of religious divide and killing the Oromoo people and other nation and nationality except the Amhara people. Today he is part of problem that the country facing in which he believe the ideology of last 150 years of political atrocities of Menelik crime against the humanity particularly against the Oromoo people.

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  6. I’m devote Christian and An Oromo by ethnic group; i’ve never seen Jawar Mohammed proclaiming war on any ethnic group or any religion since i got to know him(from 2016). But since many fear his political magnificence and intelligence there are many alleged conspiracy as if he instigated religious conflict! I would have been the first to condemn him if he had done such inhumane orchestra! Never heard from his word(s) and saw from his social media posts such derogatory statements and he is a genuine and smart politicians of the century!
    *Free Jawar Mohammed;the voice of million voiceless!

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  7. Oromia is bleeding!
    Agaw is bleeding!
    Kemant is bleeding!
    walaita is bleeding!
    Ethiopian nations and nationalities are bleeding
    Ethiopia is bleeding!
    Abiy is the killer!
    Abiy must go!

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  8. I recommend to dig deeper to find out the root problem of Ethiopian empire instead of exaggerating individual roles. It is generational struggle that the Oromos and other nations and nationalities are waging for freedom and self determination and to build multi national democratic system of government. OLF’s vision is the only cure for Ethiopia.

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