||A Liberation Front of Somali West
delegation headed by the general secretary, Hussein Mohammed Ali, alias
Hussein Sora, visited the Middle East. Hussein had been an active
member of the Macha-Tuullama Welfare Association and had been to Somalia
in 1967 when the Association was banned and its members persecuted.
||The underground agitation paper,
"The Oromo: Voice Against Tyranny," (issued by members who went
underground in Addis Ababa following the ban on MTWA), stated ... "An
Oromo has no empire to build but a mission to break an imperial yoke, that
makes this mission sacred and his sacrifices never too dear."
||The LFSW in the Middle East changed its name to
the "Ethiopian National Liberation Front." The ENLF
provided training to a few individuals in Aden and other friendly Arab
countries and dispatched them to enter the country through northern
Somalia - Barbara, Hargessa - to start an armed struggle. The group
was tracked down and arrested with their weapons by Somali security
forces, shortly after they disembarked. One person was shot and
killed during the arrest. The rest and many of their collaborators
in Somalia remained in the custody of the government until 1975.
||The ENLF made preparation to try to enter the
country to start armed struggle for a second time. On the issue of
the name of the organization, "Oromo" was favored, even though
Hussein Sora continued to insist on "Ethiopia." Hussein
went back to Aden to continue foreign activities. The other members
proceeded to Hararge where they received supplies sent in from Aden
through Afar land and Wallo to Hararge. They established the first
guerrilla base in the Charchar mountains in November 1973. In the
field the name "Oromo" and not "Ethiopia" was
used. Soon a new political situation developed which led to the
taking over of power by the military in Ethiopia.
||A body or a committee was created to coordinate
the work of the underground study. After the banning of the MTWA in
1967, those members who escaped arrest continued the struggle both outside
and inside the country where they operated clandestinely. Students,
particularly those in the university, continued agitating through various
means, including underground papers, such as "The Oromo Voice Against
Tyranny" and "Kana Beektaa."
||The leaders of the underground
Macha-Tuullama movement organized a secret conference in Addis Ababa
itself. Among the participants, Hussein Sora (Sheik Hussein) and
Elemo Qilixxu (Baker Yusuf) came from the Middle East.
||The conference in December 1973 culminated
in forming the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF). The first political
program of the OLF (amended in 1976) was also the product of that
conference. Those who formed the OLF were card-carrying members of
the Macha-Tuullama Welfare Association (MTWA). In short, the OLF
grew out of the MT movement.
||The first unit of the OLF
guerrilla fighters led by Elemo Qilixxu launched an armed struggle in the
highlands of Charchar, Eastern Oromia.
5 Sept, 1974
||The Oromo guerrilla activities in
Charchar mountains created a great deal of fear among the naftanya and
junta circles. The government deployed a special force in the area
where the guerrillas were operating and carried out mass genocide on an
innocent civilian population. The guerrilla leader, Hassen Ibrahim,
popularly known by his name De Geurre - Elemo Qilixxu - was martyred. He
and his comrades died for the self-determination of Oromia, which still
motivates millions of Oromo.
||The few individuals
who went back to Aden, after the incident in Charchar, together with
others organized themselves under another name, the Organization for the
Oromo People's Liberation Struggle (OOPLS). For a while ENLF and
OOPLS functioned side by side until their offices were closed mainly
because of the cordial relations that developed between the governments of
Ethiopia and the People's Democratic Republic of Yemen.
|13-14 June, 1976
A two day
"Founding Congress" of the Oromo Liberation Front was held in
Finfinne. All of the disorganized and organized uprisings, revolts
and movements of the Oromo people for over 75 years under the Abyssinian
colonization culminated in the birth of the Oromo Liberation Front.
A few members of ENLF who were released from custody in Somalia in 1975
and others who had entered the country on previous occasions, as well
representatives of the underground study cells, individual Oromo
nationalists and patriots were members of the "Founding
Congress." The Congress revised a 1974 draft and issued a new
detailed political program of the Front. For the first time in the
history of the Oromo national struggle, a political organization with a
political program and a clear set of objectives emerged to lead the Oromo
people in the struggle against Ethiopian colonialism and oppression and on
resumed in Gara Mul'ata, Hararge by the Oromo Liberation Front.
Students and intellectuals were dispatched into the field from urban
centers to provide needed leadership and cadres. This rapidly
improved the number and quality of fighters.
joined the Oromo Liberation Army and fought in several battles as a
||The OLF assigned a
foreign affairs representative to the office in Damascus, Syria. OLF
activities in foreign lands have grown hand in hand and commensurate with
the activities inside Oromia.
Oromo" (Oromo Star), the official organ of the OLF, first
appeared. It's being issued irregularly and it's in Amharic.
Some middle class Oromo women got together to form the
first few women's study circles to read and discuss radical literature,
especially those on women's oppression. The main objectives were to
be aware of the roots of gender oppression, to organize Oromo women at
grassroots to raise gender consciousness, and to bring the message of
liberation to them. But these groups were to be nipped in the bud
when the Supreme Politico-Military Command (SPMC) of the OLF moved to
eastern Oromia to intensify the armed struggle.
||Members of the
leading organ of the Oromo Liberation Front and representatives of the
fighters and underground cells met in Finfinne to restructure the
organization and elect a new leadership. According to the new
structure, the Front was to have 41 central committee members. The
central committee elected five individuals from among its members to an
executive body called the "Supreme Politico Military Command (SPMC)." The five members of the SPMC were the chairperson,
vice chairperson, secretary and two other members overseeing the
activities of the committee. Under the SPMC, there were five
functional committees each headed by a member of the central
committee. These were military, political, financial and logistical,
social and foreign affairs committee. The leaders elected to the SPMC were Muhee Abdoo, Magarsaa Barii, Gadaa Gammadaa, Leenco Lata and Baaroo Tumsaa.
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
||Most of the leaders
and cadres working in the cities and towns had left for the field to join
the Oromo Liberation Army in Gara Mul'ata and other areas. Many
students and members of the armed forces joined the Front in large numbers
and dispatched to the field as well. OLF guerrilla operational areas
expanded to many parts of Hararge and Arba Guugu in Arsi. A few
leaders and cadres were dispatched to Gadab and other parts of Baale and
commenced the armed struggle there.
||Some leaders of the
OLF fighters in the eastern Oromia region attempted to create dissension
in the fighting forces. The attempt was foiled.
||Attempts were made
by the OLF to implement the plan to extend armed struggle in central
Oromia, western Shawa. A guerrilla unit was dispatched to the Gudar
river valley, northwest of Ambo. The guerrilla detachment was
spotted only a few weeks after its arrival in the area and many of its
members were captured. This caused consternation in the government
circles and led to the mass arrest and imprisonment of innocent Oromo
peasants, leaders, students, teachers, workers, intellectuals, women and
merchants. Most of them were from Hararge and Shawa.
||The OLF opened a
foreign affairs office in Khartoum, the Sudan.
||Oromo students, women, peasants
and leading intellectuals were mass-arrested and imprisoned by the Derg.
This unparalleled indiscriminate mass arrest of Oromo all over the country
even caught the attention of the international human rights
organizations. They were suspected of aiding or having knowledge of
the Oromo Liberation Front, which was fighting the government in parts of
government appeared to show some degree of understanding and cooperation
by allowing the OLF to open offices in Somalia.
||The OLF extended
armed struggle to western Oromia, Wallagga region, starting with a dozen
or so fighters. Apparently, this was facilitated by the opening of a
foreign affairs office in Khartoum.
||The offices opened
by the OLF two years earlier in Mogadishu, Somalia, were closed down and
the OLF members working in the country were told to leave. Some
observers have hinted that the main reason behind this action by the
Somali government was the OLF's reluctance to come to terms with SALF -
Somali Abbo Liberation Front.
joined the OLA, worked with the hawwisoo (musical troupe) till 1986, then
trained in health care, and fought at many battles on the front line of
eastern Oromia. Not only did she take part in large battles, but she
also treated and took care of wounded.
Juukii Bareentoo became the first Oromo woman fighter
ever to be elected to the Central Committee of the OLF, because of her
excellent and extraordinary ability in leadership and teaching. She
was responsible for the propaganda section of the political department.
||Arbii Miilii joined
the OLA, worked with the hawwisoo (musical troupe) and became deputy squad
commander because of her fighting abilities.
The Derg army ambushed the command post of the OLF
leadership in a place called Billiqa. Juukii Bareentoo was among the
fighters who fought in a long battle that saved the lives of many members
of the leadership, including Galaasa Dilboo, the Secretary General of the
OLF. Juukii took her own life to avoid falling into the hands of her
||The Somali Abbo Liberation Front
ceased to exist inside the country. Most of the areas in Baale and
Arsi where SALF used to operate fell under the influence of the OLF.
||Ibsituu Margaa rose
to be platoon commander in the Oromo Liberation Army (OLA). She
became a Dabballee Buttaa (cadre of the Buttaa, 3 platoons) and was
responsible for training hawwisoo (musical troupe). She defended the
Oromo peasants as they were fleeing Mengistu's villagization program.
Aradoolaa Abdalla joined the OLA and took part at ten
major battles in western Oromia. Because of her bravery, she rose to
be platoon commander in the guerrilla leadership.
On a cold October day in 1986, long-time
Maa'ikalaawii (Central Prison) Oromo prisoners of conscience: Gezahegne
Kassahun, Kebede Demissie, Muhee Abdo and Yigezu Wake, were dragged out of
their cells and executed by cold-blooded security officers of the Derg
regime inside a military intelligence compound in Kotebe, a Finfinne
to an Amnesty
International Report, in addition to
being ardent Oromo nationalists, the four executed prisoners were:
Gezahegne Kassahun - former first deputy chairman, All Ethiopia Trades Union,
Kebede Demissie - former Ministry of Agriculture official,
Muhee Abdo - civil servant and university graduate,
Yigezu Wake - former army lieutenant.
"crime" resulting in this cold-blooded extrajudicial execution was being Oromo.
prisoner of conscience, Ibsaa Guutama, recounts that October day in 1986
in his book, titled Prison of Conscience, as follows:
Upper Compound, Muhee Abdoo and Gazaheny Kaasaahun were called [out]. It
was already heard that several old prisoners from the Karchallee had
arrived presumably to be released. Gazaheny informed this writer [Ibsaa]
about their arrival, shortly before he himself was called out. The
subsequent addition of the two comrades [Muhee and Gazaheny] raised doubt.
After some time, the Administration sent for their belongings. That was an
enough clue for something bad [had happened to Muhee and Gazaheny.] All
their comrades were numbed. They did not know how to respond." (Source: Guutama,
Ibsaa, "Prison of Conscience: Upper Compound
Gubirmans Publishing, New York, 2003.)
used to strangle & execute the October 1986 Oromo martyrs: Gezahegne
Kassahun, Kebede Demissie, Muhee Abdo & Yigezu Wake. Source:
Argentine Forensic Anthropology Team
(Viewer Discretion Advised)
a similar account, the Argentine Forensic Anthropology Team,
that worked with the Special Prosecutors Office (which was set up in 1992
to investigate and prosecute former Derg officials), reports the
that we interviewed said that late on the night of October 7, 1979
[Geez Calendar, 1986 in European Calendar], a truck arrived in the prison compound and twenty prisoners were offloaded.
The night was cold and many of the new prisoners had wrapped themselves in blankets. They were put in holding cells apart from the
main cellblock. The next morning, at 10-20 minutes intervals, the guards called out each of the twenty new prisoners by name and,
one by one, they were marched away. Ten Makalawi prisoners were similarly called out and taken away. The thirty men never returned,
and by late afternoon rumors
began to circulate that they had all been executed." (Source: Reports by
the Argentine Forensic Anthropology Team)
imprisonments and cold-blooded executions against Oromo nationalists were
not limited to the four October 1986 martyrs and to the Derg regime. Just
in October 2007, the Oromo Support Group reported 3,981
extrajudicial killings and 943 disappearances. In addition, it has
been reported by former inmates that the
Qallitti Prison Camp alone had 85% Oromo prisoners of conscience. This
is despicable and outrageous by all human rights standards.
imprisonments and killings of Oromo nationalists are the
tools deployed by the Abyssinian System of Domination to intimidate and
exterminate the Oromummaa movement. It is, therefore, imperative that all
independent Oromo nationalist institutions declare October as
the Oromo Nationalist Prisoner of Conscience Month to honor the October 1986 martyrs, to bring about awareness about the hundreds and thousands of Oromo prisoners of conscience
languishing helplessly and awaiting extrajudicial executions in prison
camps of the Empire today, and to invigorate the campaign for the unconditional release
of all Oromo political prisoners!
||Aashaa joined the
OLA in western Oromia. Her greatest jabduu (heroic deed) was in 1988
when the Sudanese People's Liberation Army (SPLA) stormed Oromo refugee
camps in Yabus. Aashaa fought in the defense of Yabus for one
month. Aashaa kept fighting even as she was surrounded by SPLA
forces and killed many SPLA fighters before she fell.
People's Liberation Front (TPLF) started to undermine the OLF by
establishing the Oromo People's Democratic Organization (OPDO) among Oromo
prisoners who had been captured while serving in the Ethiopian
||Arbii Miilii took
command and led the OLA unit when her commander fell during the fighting
between Oromo Liberation Army and the Derg army around Asoosaa in Giizan.
She was seriously wounded during this fighting.
||The 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.
conference for establishing a transitional government was convened in
Addis Ababa as an attempt on the part of the TPLF/EPRDF to rapidly secure
widespread acceptance among the general population. It resulted in
the signing of a Charter by the representatives of some 31 political
movements, the creation of an 87-seat Council of Representatives, and the
establishment of the Transitional Government of Ethiopia (TGE). The
OLF joined the coalition that formed the TGE and it held the second
largest number of seats in the Council of Representatives. Five more
seats were allotted for the Islamic Front for the Liberation of Oromia (IFLO),
Oromo Abbo Liberation Front (OALF) and the United Oromo People's
Liberation Organization (UOPLO). The Oromo People's Democratic
Organization (OPDO) also held seats as part of the EPRDF coalition.
OLF convened a meeting of over 1,000 Oromo intellectuals to decide which
alphabet to use to write Afaan Oromo. After a many hours of debate,
they decided unanimously to adopt the Latin alphabet.
||The OLF stated that its efforts to
negotiate and work within the TGE for democracy had been blocked.
Insisting that the TGE wad dominated by the EPRDF, that it did not offer
an avenue for democratic reforms in Ethiopia, that its supporters had been
violently attacked and that the TGE simply represented the continuation of
Ethiopian colonialism under a new disguise by replacing Amhara domination
with that of Tigrayans, the OLF left the coalition and renewed its program
for achieving an independent Oromo state.
led her OLA unit in the fight against the army of the TPLF/EPRDF in the
vicinity of Najjoo, where she was wounded. But, even when she became
separated from her unit, Aradoolaa did not give up the struggle. She
acquired valuable information about the enemy and passed it to the Oromo
Over 20,000 Oromo fighters were arrested and held for
long periods in camps around Oromia.
||The OLF launched 157 launches
against the forces of the TPLF/EPRDF regime.
||In a military communiqué, the
OLF claimed victory in 17 recent attacks on government forces.