The government’s manifesto to uproot the Sidama people from their ancestral Hawassa
The Ethiopian Government /EPRDF Manifesto to Uproot the Sidama People from their Land of Hawassa
From Hawassa, Sidama, June 26, 2012
The Ethiopian government/EPRDF recently circulated a manifesto declaring that the Hawassa town in Sidama be placed under the control of the central government and be administered nationally. The objective of the manifesto written in Amharic is to undermine and permanently silence the age-old demand of the Sidama people for regional autonomy. Since EPRDF’s advent to power in 1991, the Sidama people have consistently demanded that because of their population size (which government puts at 3 million but independent estimates put at 5.6 million) and their high economic contributions (Sidama is a major producer of coffee that earns about 60% of foreign exchange for the country) they be granted regional autonomy in Ethiopia.
This is a basic human, economic and political right that is enshrined in the very constitution promulgated by the EPRDF government itself. However, the Ethiopian government repeatedly rejected the constitutional demand of the Sidama people and in a number of occasions crushed peaceful protests with brute forces. In 2002, when the Government announced that it was going to place Hawassa town under national administration, the Sidama people rose up and rejected the proposed measures and pressed with their demand for regional autonomy. People carried out peaceful rallies to underscore their dissatisfaction with the Government’s proposal in various towns and villages across Sidama. However, peaceful marches by Sidama elders, high school students and children from Hawassa and its surroundings were brutally crushed by the armed forces and security police who used live ammunition and massacred over 100 people of whom the bodies of about 70 have been recovered and buried.
The ensuing crack down on the Sidama people saw further atrocities in the form of extrajudicial arrests, torture, and forced removal from employment positions and forced exile of educated and skilled Sidama nationals. However, such brutal repression did not dampen the spirit of the Sidama people who have fought four successive regimes in protracted liberation struggles at times fully liberating half of the province from the oppressive regimes in spite of suffering recurring setbacks. The struggle for basic rights of regional self-determination continued covertly and overtly until today.
Notwithstanding this fact, the regime that is hell-bent to impose its will on the people to protect the interests of the few in the land recently produced a new manifesto to uproot the Sidama people from their home land of Hawassa.
The manifesto is written in Amharic and has four sections: an introduction, why the Hawassa administration is key to the national government, principles to follow to restructure Hawassa town administration, and a conclusion.
We provide below a rough summary translation of the manifesto while providing clarifications to readers about glaring policy inconsistencies contained in the illegal and unconstitutional document under each paragraph.
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