Strategizing the #OromoProtests
(A Concept Note for Oromo Activists Summit)
Background and Rationale
Eleven months have passed since the Oromo Protests have ignited a spark of hope across Oromia that inspired the entire Ethiopia. The selfless young Oromo youth is paying bitter and expensive sacrifices to bring to an end, once for all, the miseries of political marginalization, economic exploitations and cultural subjugations and assimilations the Oromo people suffered since the turn of the 19th century.
The new Oromo generation has defeated the Ethiopia regime attempt to brainwash and convert them into a bunch of lunatics. The rise of the Oromo youth against the order, under which it is educated, is humiliation for TPLF propaganda and a great victory of the Oromo nation. Fear is dead in Oromia, and the oppressive government use of force or a threat of the use of force hardly stops our people anymore.
The Oromo Protests is shaking the TPLF Ethiopia to its core and breaking the shackles of repression. The regime that claims to have won every single vote of the last national and regional elections is fighting for its own life. The TPLF Ethiopia has declared a state of emergency for the first time in a quarter of a century.
Our struggle is, giving a new hope for freedom and justice, opening a new chapter in our struggle both domestically and internationally. Glory to the gallant sons and daughters of Oromia, the international community has awkwardly learned a naked truth; the TPLF Ethiopian regime is nothing but a dictatorship. An Ethiopia that prides itself as a haven of stability and a reliable partner of the West in the turbulent Horn of Africa doesn’t exist anymore.
Likewise, the Oromo protests show that the Oromo nation is a peace loving nation who can live at peace and in harmony with each other, nations and nationalities living in its land, and with its neighbors. The Oromo struggle salutes the solidarity between the two largest nations of Ethiopia (Oromo and Amhara) in overcoming a divide and control tactic of the minority regime. This solidarity heralds a new chapter of understanding, coexistence, and cooperation among the nations and nationalities of the country and the death of the divisive minority regime.
The Oromo struggle proves, to friends and foe alike, that the Oromo nation is not a collection of tribes divided along tribal and religious fault lines but a single political nation fighting for a common destiny. Furthermore, the Oromo protests have inspired the whole of Ethiopia with the determination and discipline of its struggle, and the Oromo nation is a champion for freedom, justice, human rights, rule of law, and democracy. Eternal glory to our martyrs, the Oromo nation is standing tall and is commanding a significant national attention and has become a beacon of hope, inspiration, and leadership for all Ethiopians.
Although the Oromo protests achieved a great deal over the course of the past eleven months, still there is a long journey to freedom ahead of us. First and foremost, the Oromo protests is a mass movement driven by grassroots volunteers with no or little contribution from the so-called political forces or groups. There is no doubt that this mass movement is in need of organizational structures at every level to become an effective national change agent.Therefore, the Oromo struggle must design a roadmap for change for Oromia, Ethiopia and the greater Horn of Africa region.
Given that the TPLF Ethiopia is a police state, grass root activists in Ethiopia have no chance to come up with such a roadmap. However, activists in the diaspora have a freedom to get organized and draw a roadmap to direct the struggle back home.
In this connection, diaspora based online activists play a crucial role in guiding grass root protesters, in generating publicity to this movement, in organizing the youth, in disseminating information, and in fundraising. The online activists also played a greater role in getting the words out to the international media and promoting public and private diplomacy.
In this regard, the biggest platform for online activism is social media. The use of social media have broken down the government stranglehold on a flow of information and plays a significant role in informing and mobilizing the grass root protesters and diaspora.
Although the Oromo online activist is very productive in its campaign so far, there are some noticeable limitations. Firstly, there is little effort to centralize and strategize the structure of online activism. This indicates the need for an urgent action to coordinate (streamline if possible) online activists operations. Secondly, online activism is not as productive as real world activism, unless the online and grassroots activists create a strong bond in communicating their messages to each other. That means online and grass-root activism must work in tandem with each other to be effective. There is no online activism without internet, and in Ethiopia, the government is a sole provider of internet service, which it can shut down anytime. Therefore, it is important for online and grassroots activists to work together and design an alternative means of communication in the event of internet connection shut down. Thirdly, there is a little in the way of guiding the operation of online activists. Some activists, knowingly or unknowingly, disseminate destructive and divisive information causing more harm than good. Others, knowingly or unknowingly, disseminate information that may put grass roots activists at risk. Fourthly, online activists are not organized and most of them work independently of each other. It is true that individual activism is important but it is more important and productive if those activists coordinate their efforts.
Therefore, we believe that it is necessary, useful and important to unify our online efforts in order to contribute our share in the success of the Oromo struggle.
To achieve this goal, it is necessary to convene a summit of online activists to discuss the benefits and challenges of online activists in general and social media activists in particular. We also believe that the summit will create a good opportunity for the activists to develop a unified strategy for online activism and grass root activism.
Objectives of the Summit
1. To enable the Oromo movement to coordinate, strategize and centralize the activities of the online activism.
2. To coordinate and streamline the operation of the activities of the Oromo activists. To create a structure for the activists through the creation of different teams and division of labor:
3. To prepare the online activists in conducting effective diplomacy in working with diplomatic community,
4. To create a team working in a coordination with other Ethiopian nations and nationality activists.
5. To create a team working on building financial capacity and fundraising (to support the struggle back home).
Outcome of the Summit
The expected outcomes of the activists meeting are:
(a) Provide strategic leadership, guidance and recommendations to the online activists and grassroot activists
(b) Enhance integration of the activists in terms of minimizing duplication of efforts and roles assignment. It is expected that after discussions and deliberations, the main activists’ roles would be; information and communication, diplomacy, intelligence and financial support teams in a holistic and cross-sectional manner at all levels;
(c) Provide a dynamic platform for regular dialogue, meetings, and training to advance the Oromo contribution in the Oromo struggle;
(d) Create a focused, dynamic and action-oriented agenda in consideration of new and emerging challenges;
(e) Reach a consensus on how Oromo activists will stand with Oromo people’s struggle
(f) Create a task force to establish an association of the Oromo activists. The Association, in turn, will build on the strengths, experiences, resources and inclusive participation modalities of the individual activists.
(g) Share from experience and raise awareness of how to work with other activists, including non-Oromo activists.
Venue and Duration
The meeting shall be on December 17-18, 2016 for two days. The Venue will be announced soon.
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