In Defense of Oromia Media Network (OMN)

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A letter in response to a petition to Shut Down Oromia Media Network (OMN) on the basis of false allegations blaming OMN for spreading news that incite conflict and violence.

August 21, 2020

To the Honorable Tim Walz

Governor of Minnesota

1006 Summit Ave, St Paul, MN 55105

Dear Governor Waltz,

We, members of the Oromia Global Forum express our deepest disappointment and objection to a petition to shut down OMN on the basis of false allegations and accusations of spreading news that incite conflict and violence lodged against OMN while the truth is the complete opposite of what has been claimed.

Such allegations are coordinated and organized under the leadership of PM Abiy’s government and his embassies as an extension of human rights abuses and atrocities committed against the Oromo people at home. The objective is to muzzle up Oromo mass media, Oromo activists, Oromo youth, Oromo intellectuals, business people and elders that speak up for their people.

The Oromo people remained voiceless for years with no mass media to expose the truth about what was happening in Oromia and Ethiopia. But this changed when the Oromo diaspora communities with the leadership of Mr. Jawar Mohammad and other Oromo young activities founded a TV network called OMN in Minnesota, USA. We are very grateful to the people and the State of Minnesota for hosting OMN throughout its existence. Jawar Mohammad was an Oromo expatriate, a resident of Minnesota, a United States citizen and an Ivy League graduate who served as the managing director of OMN. OMN became an independent voice of the Oromo people breaking the monopoly of the air waves by the then TPLF-EPRDF regime. OMN exposed the human rights abuses and atrocities committed against the Oromo people and others.

OMN became a powerful voice not only of the Oromo people, but also of the other marginalized nations and nationalities of the country that support democratization and the existing multinational federal system. However, these activities bought OMN enemies from Abiy’s camp that are against a multinational federal system and want to reinstate the old imperial unitary and assimilative Ethiopia. There were many attempts to close the OMN because of its activities related to the support it gave to the voiceless peoples of the South such as the Sidama, Wolaita, Hadiya, Kambata, Silte, Gurage and Qimant-Agew people from the north. At the OMN, these oppressed nations and nationalities got a stage to present their issues and demands for self-determination, freedom and justice, by using their own languages. As a result, OMN became the best network in the country by transmitting educational warnings and messages on COVID 19 in over 14 local languages. Because of this, the regime’s competing stations and the proponents of Neftegna system were determined to have it blocked. Their wish was realized after the assassination of Haachaaluu Hundeessaa, by none other than the government of Abiy Ahmed who ascended to the highest office through the hard work of OMN, and the bones and blood of Oromo Youth, popularly known as Qeerroo.

On June 30, 2020, following Haachaaluu Hubdeessaa’s assassination, Jawar Mohammad, who trusted the government, gave up his American citizenship and went home to struggle peacefully was thrown to jail, and OMN office in the capital city was ransacked and closed, many of its journalists thrown in to jail. Many other political opponents and activists have been killed or imprisoned since then. A full-fledged attack on transition to democracy, respect for diversity and tolerance was waged by PM Abiy and his supporters. Tens of thousands of Oromos who are members of opposition political parties and Oromo nationalists have been imprisoned.

In Ethiopia, today, those who are against bent on dismantling the multi-national federal system and replacing it with a unitary system of government, transition to democracy and justice have the monopoly of power, mass media, and finances. They are directly led by PM Abiy and coordinated by his embassies around the globe. They conduct relentless campaigns against OMN, other Oromo mass media, Oromo human rights activists, Intellectuals, students, prominent business people, historians, prominent elders, the Gada system and everything Oromo. In so doing, they are using all repressive means to stifle the voice of freedom seeking humanity. the Oromo nation and others.

We ask that you see the petition to Shut Down Oromia Media Network (OMN) as nothing but a full-fledged attack on transition to democracy, respect for diversity, justice, and tolerance being waged by PM Abiy and his supporters.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

List of Oromia Global Forum Members:

1. Advocacy4Oromia

2. Bilal Oromo Dawa Center

3. Canaan Oromo Evangelical Church

4. Charismatic International Fellowship Church

5. DMV Oromo Islamic Center

6. Gaadisa Sabboontottaa KP

7. Global Gumii Oromia

8. Global Oromo Advocacy Group 4 9. Global Waaqeffannaa Council

9. Global Waaqeffannaa Council

10. Horn of Africa Genocide Watch

11. Human Rights League of the Horn of Africa

12. International Oromo Lawyers Association

13. International Oromo Women's Organization

14. International Qeerroo Support Group

15. Network of Oromo Studies

16. Mana Kiristaanaa Fayyisaa Addunyaa

17. Oromo Christ Evangelical Lutheran Church

18. Oromo Community of Bergen

19. Oromo Community of Oslo

20. Oromo Communities’ Association of North America

21. Oromo Evangelical Lutheran Church of Los Angeles

22. Oromo Evangelical Lutheran Church of Washington DC Metropolitan Area

23. Oromo Evangelical Lutheran Mission Society

24. Oromo Human Rights and Relief Organization

25. Oromo Legacy, Leadership and Advocacy Association

26. Oromo Lutheran Church of Baltimore

27. Oromo Relief Association in USA

28. Oromo Resurrection Evangelical Church

29. Oromo Parliamentarians Council

30. Oromo Political Prisoners Association

31. Oromo Scholars and Professionals

32. Oromia Support Group

33. Oromo Studies Association

34. Tawfiq Islamic Center

35. Tawhid Oromo Islamic Center in Minnesota

36. Union of Oromo Communities in Canada

37. United Oromo Christian Church in Australia

38. United Oromo Evangelical Church

39. Wabii Maccaa Association

40. Washington DC Metropolitan Oromo SDA Church