||Ethiopian Revolution toppled the Haile
On September 12th, 1974, the Military Coordinating Committee
proclaimed itself as the Provisional Military Administration Council (PMAC)
and took over the state and government power.
At the end of 1974, to weaken and eliminate the major opposition groups
in the urban centers, the Derg sent all university and high school
students and teachers to rural areas on what was called "Development
Through Cooperation Campaign" - Zamacha.
|General Tefer Banti was appointed
Chairman of PMAC and head of state. This was done to mislead the
Oromo people and to gain time to further consolidate their position.
||The Derg issued a major policy
directive on the 'nationalities question' and other issues in a document
called the "National Democratic Revolution" (NDR). The NDR
declared the right to self-determination of all nationalities will be
recognized and fully respected. It went farther and suggested
regional autonomy as a solution to existing political problems, thus
severely limiting the exercise of self-determination. But even these
declarations remained empty promises and the regime completely failed to
fulfill its own pledges, however limited they were.
The Derg brought together the five left-oriented rival groups
Waz League, Malerid, Abyotawi Seded and Ichat working closely with them
and created the Provisional Office for Mass Organization Afairs (POMOA),
which soon transformed into Ethiopian Marxist-Leninist Organizations (EMALD.)
||In Sidamo region Arero Province,
Agara Mariam district in the Soyama Sorro sub-district, 176 women,
children and old men were massacred at one spot at one time by a visiting
Derg member. Individual Derg members enjoyed unlimited power and had
functioned as the ultimate authority.
||EMALD was divided on the issue of
the nationalities question. One group favored the implementation of
the principle of self-determination up to independence while those
opposing opted for regional autonomy. This led to the disbandment of
the EMALD, and many of its members and a few Derg members who supported
self-determination in its true sense for nationalities issue were either
shot, imprisoned or exiled.
||Mengistu Haile Mariam shot his own
way to the top in one bloody purge after another. Almost single
handedly he has brought about the imprisonment, massacre and death by
starvation and war, of millions of the empire's population during his 14
years in power until he was removed in 1991.
||Mengistu and his clique after
consolidating their position in the Derg turned against the very forces
and groups who brought about the revolution by unleashing their infamous
"Red Terror." The streets of Addis Ababa and other cities
and towns were littered with the dead bodies of youths, workers and
intellectuals, victims of the Derg's "Red Terror" campaign.
During the "Red Terror," thousands of Oromo youths and
intellectuals were slain mercilessly. Often it was enough to be an
Oromo to be suspected which led to arrest and death.
of young peasants, students, workers from the army, etc. joined the
OLF. Many of them fled the infamous "Red Terror" from the
towns and cities. The peasants fled from the advancing Ethiopian and
Somali armies. At one time, in early 1978, the number of the OLF
fighters was estimated at several thousands. By this time, the OLF
influence reached large areas of Hararge and Arsi, northeastern Baale and
Shawa bordering northeastern Arsi area, such as Awash National
Ibsituu Margaa joined the Oromo
Liberation Army (OLA) as a guerrilla regular and fought on the front line
of eastern Oromia.
Juukii Bareentoo joined the OLA
and fought at many battles on the front line of eastern Oromia.
War was, mainly, fought in eastern Oromia. The War affected the
Oromo national struggle in many ways. In 1977 the OLF and Oromo
peasants obtained large numbers of arms and ammunitions that the Ethiopian
army had abandoned in its fight before the advancing Somali and Western
Somali Liberation Front (WSLF) armies. Then in 1978, the OLF gained
more weapons from WSLF fighters and the Somali army fleeing from the
attacking Soviet and Cuban forces. On the other hand, the armies of
both regional powers and WSLF have tried their utmost to eliminate the
nascent OLF guerrilla force.
Saartu Yusouf was among the Oromo combatants who were
killed during a battle between retreating Ethiopian soldiers and an OLF
||The Derg proclaimed what it called
a "National Revolutionary Development Campaign," whose aims were
to increase agricultural production for local consumption by increasing
the size of state farms and by agitating and pressuring revolution,
meaning the Amharization of the dominated nations under a socialist
blanket, and to serve as part of the over-all military and political
strategy aimed at keeping the Oromo people and other in perpetual
||The Derg embarked on the
villagization program immediately after the Ethio-Somali war was
over. Using war as a pretext, the army was deployed into the
countryside in Baale to burn houses, cut down green crops, confiscate
property, and kill farm animals and those who resisted.
||Settlement of Abyssinians in
Oromia has been used by consecutive Ethiopian regimes as an effective way
to suppress, exploit and control the Oromo population. The major
settlement involved in the large scale movement of people from the north
to Wallagga, Baale and to other parts of Oromia and adjacent areas.
||The commission for organizing the
Party of the Workers of Ethiopia (COPWE) was set up. Members of the
commission were hand-picked by Mengistu. It was set up for the
single task of organizing a single, would be, ruling party.
||"Oromia: An Introduction to the History
of the Oromo People" first issued.
||The villagization program was
extended to Arsi, Arba Guugu province, where 600,000 persons were affected
by the program in this region only.
||Mandatory national military
service was proclaimed. Continued conscription of peasants and
workers through the peasant associations and urban neighborhood
associations (Qabale) by force or trick was met with stiff resistance
until it became difficult to fill the required quota.
||The military junta established the
"Institute of Ethiopian Nationalities Study" by
proclamation. The content of this proclamation did not differ from
that of the National Democratic Revolution (NDR) of 1976. In both
documents, the Derg's policy on the national question was narrowed down to
military, diplomatic and economic benefits of cooperation or unity by the
various political forces opposing the Derg regime were self-evident.
Based on this understanding, the formation of a united or solidarity front
of forces opposing the Ethiopian regime was proposed by various
groups. Unfortunately, some of the forces were sticking to their
dogmatic views and their intransigence and intolerance continue to be a
serious obstacle for the cooperation and progress.
||Five years after its creation,
COPWE was transformed into the Workers' Party of Ethiopia (WPE) at a
lavish celebration of huge cost. The Derg members discarded the
military attire for civilian garb. They forfeited their military
titles for comradeship and gradually transformed themselves into civilian
Marxists. Among the WPE Central Committee members of 200, there were 118
Amharas, 23 Oromo and the remaining 68 from 85 or so remaining nations and
Famine seriously threatened some 10 million inhabitants of the Empire.
This famine was perhaps the worst experienced by the peoples of this
region. The ruthless exploitation of the backward peasantry was and
still is the major cause of the chronic food shortage and the most
significant contributing factor to the creation and exacerbation of famine
in the Empire.
||The villagization program started
in Hararge as part of full scale military campaign against the OLF.
The villagization program affected about 50% (2 million) of the Oromo
population living in the eight highland provinces of Hararge.
|5 March, 1986
||The Kenyan paper, "Daily
Nation," reported on the magnitude of the villagization program:
"The biggest forced migration of people in modern history coupled
with persistent government neglect of agriculture is threatening to plunge
Ethiopia into a new, man-made famine."
|13 March, 1986
||The "International Herald
Tribune" reported that "Western diplomats day one motive for the
government program [villagization program] is to cut off peasant support
for anti-government separatists, such as the Oromo Liberation Front."
The Italian government gave 200 million dollars for the
implementation of the controversial settlement and villagization
||The junta came up with a highly
publicized draft constitution for the People's Democratic Republic of
||The new constitution was presented
for referendum and declared accepted. Then, deputies to the National
Shango (Ethiopian People's National Assembly), hand-picked by the party
cadres and presented to the population, were endorsed. Mengistu
Haile Mariam was now President of the Republic.
Following the creation of the National
Shango, the Derg declared itself
||"Oromia: An Introduction to the History
of the Oromo People" second-edition published, author: Gadaa
London Conference was attended by the Derg, Eritrean People's Liberation
Front (EPLF), Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) and Tigray People's Liberation
Front (TPLF), but the Derg officials withdrew from the end of the meeting
after hearing the news that Mengistu Haile Mariam fled to Zimbabwe.
The Mengistu regime was finally deposed.