The Blues is said to be based on musical traditions drawn from African roots. The slave trade to Arabia and the east – in total, much bigger than the better-known trade routes west – despatched misery on a similar scale.
Except that Oromo and other slaves taken from and through Abyssinia (up to the 1930s incidentally, and continuing now under the guise of domestic servants) were more likely to become freed women and men, and become political and military leaders. Not so much now.
The majority pay to travel on false papers, often with exaggerated ages, to work, for many in a state of slavery, for Arabian families. They flee from persecution because they have dared to stand up for Oromo rights.
Between November 2015 and March 2016 over 400 Oromo students and civilians have been shot dead on the streets of Ethiopia, where they demonstrated. Or when they opened their doors to the house-to-house searches which followed. Local informants report many more killings. Names, dates and locations of over 250 extra-judicial executions have been given.
Where is the clamour from left and right, complaining about misuse of our generous aid to Ethiopia? This aid amounts to about £300 million yearly – Ethiopia receives more aid from the UK than any other country in the world.
Well, the clamour is not coming because, allegedly, the government is in control and the opposition is weak and divided. Small wonder, that an oppressive regime with western support and intelligence can render an opposition weak and divided
Meanwhile, students bleed on Ethiopian streets and there is martial law in Oromia. Tens of thousands of young people are incarcerated in concentration camps. Is this the sort of stability that the UK wants to encourage?
This picture is of a young woman killed in central Oromia Region, at a place named Galesda. Her name is Nato Guluma. She was shot dead in Jaldu, West Showa, on 14 December 2015.
What do we want the UK’s foreign policy to look like in Ethiopia, East Africa, the Middle East? Like this? An sweeping under the rugs of innocent lives lost in the struggle for freedom from persecution? Then again, so few of us know about these lives. After all, Oromo students being shot dead is sometimes just not media material, and will never make it to the UK’s front pages.
Well, now you know.
Dr Trevor Trueman learned about the unfair treatment of asylum-seekers when providing expert witness reports on Ethiopia to immigration appeal tribunals and courts. He has developed an expertise on human rights abuses in Ethiopia as a result of reporting abuses against Oromo and other peoples of Ethiopian publicly since 1994. He trained Oromo health workers in three long field trips from 1988 to 1991. He is now a member of the steering committee of Amnesty’s Asylum Justice Project.
Credit for Featured Image: Flickr