Mr. Bekele Gaba and six other leaders of the Oromo Federalist Congress have been released from prison today. Mr. Garba was thrown to jail in November 2015 right after the beginning of the second wave of Oromo protests which engulfed the whole region like wildfire. It seems the regime picked the calm and seasoned OFC leader in an attempt to make the movement leaderless. Regardless, the protests have continued to this day.
It is to be remembered that Mr. Garba previously served a four year prison sentence on trumped up terrorism charges.
Bekele and colleagues were released on the second day of market boycott which encompassed many towns in Oromia and Amhara regional states. According to the organizers the market boycott will last three days and the goal was to pressure the gov’t to release ALL political prisoners, remove federal forces from cities and towns, and bring to justice those who took part in the murder of peaceful protesters.
The names of those who were released are:
1) Gurmeessaa Ayyaanoo
2) Addisuu Bulaala
3) Dejene Tafa
4) Bekele Garba
5) Getu Girma Tolassa
6) Beyene Ruda
7) Tesfaye Liben Tolassa
It seems the unrest which is in its third year and periodic market boycott has hurt the pocket books of the gov’t, and many observers give credit to Qerroo (Oromoo Youth) for putting tremendous pressure on the chaotic EPRDF led government into releases some of the prisoners of conscience.
Even though the release of these leaders is a welcome news that should be cheered by all Oromos we should not lose sight by this miniscule gesture from the gov't as none of those leaders should have gone to jail in the first place. Besides, tens of thousands of Oromos are still languishing in gulags and underground prison cells. We should not fall for the divide and conquer tactics of the TPLF whereby they appease a small group in an attempt to buy loyalty while still hurting the majority. The struggle should continue until the last person unjustly incarcerated are set free.