From a Police State to a POLICE STATE–Quite Literally =============== The TPLF-led Ethiopian regime has continued to trade in fear and terror.

From a Police State to a POLICE STATE–Quite Literally
The TPLF-led Ethiopian regime has continued to trade in fear and terror. Reports from Eastern (in Hararghe) and Western (in Wallagaa) Peripheries of Oromia indicate that the regime is busy not only igniting, fanning, and spreading conflicts within and on the borders of Oromia but also deploying the federal military (and its finest facilities) to commit massacres on civilian populations. All indications are that what it is doing is a methodical execution of a well-scripted plan of wreacking havoc with a view to creating conditions of possibility for a complete military take over of Oromia by the TPLF.

One of the ‘scripts’ for this spectacle of contrived chaos is the recent ‘manual’ prepared by the Federal Police Commission on “The Mission of the Federal Police in the Light of the Current Security Situation in the Country.” The ‘manual’ is prepared, ostensibly, to enhance the understanding of the federal police officers on the current security situation and to strengthen their capability to execute their mission in defending the federal system and the constitutional order. It claims to do so by highlighting the deteriorating security situation in various parts of the country (a rather euphemistic code word for the rise in protests all over the country particularl in Amhara, Oromia, Gedio, Konso) and border clashes between Oromia and Somali States). The remainder of this post will present a summary of the ‘manual’ and highlight the implications (based on my interpretation of the text and its context).

The Manual
The ‘manual’ is prepared as a training kit for federal police officers. It is a total of 67 slides outlining the current security situation, identifying key problems, recounting damages caused, and assessing emerging trends. Its stated purpose is to enhance the understanding of the officers on the role of the federal police in the federal system, especially in the context of the deteriorating security situation. Its goal is to deepen their knowledge of federalism in order to strengthen their capacity to preserve the constitutional order.

The manual has 4 parts (Introduction and conclusion included). The introduction mentions the rise in protests (in Oromia, Amhara, Gedeo, and Konso) and escalating border clashes between the Oromia and Somali States. It claims that the fundamental problem is the reluctance among some of the political officials to implement the ‘deep reform program’ and the consequent inability to respond to the people’s demands for good governance. This is further exploited by rent seekers and opportunist forces (from within) and chauvinist and narrow nationalist forces (from without) who contributed to the unrest which in turn created the deteriorating security situation, especially after the lifting up of the state of emergency.

Section 2 focuses on the Oromo-Somali border disputes and blames the problem, inter alia, on narrow nationalism, backward thinking, and anti-development and anti-growth sentiment. It also attributes the problem to the existence of people in the system of elements that carry the agenda of anti-peace forces. It laments the harm caused to life and property but mainly on investments, mobility of goods (such as chat) and free movement of people. It mentions the displacement but ultimately downplays it but ignores it for the remainder of the manual. In a manner that has become a trend to overlook the loss of Oromo lives, it says “many have been killed, injured, and evicted–among them also Oromos.”

Section 2 goes on to blame the leaders’ inability to see peoples of both regions as equally their own peoples and treating them as such. As if it has not ignited the conflict in the first place and as if it has not failed to do its judicious umpiring role when they could not agree, it blames them for accusations and counter-accusations. On top of its assumption of moral equivalence between the acts of the aggressor and the victim, it goes on t blame the Oromia region’s institutions such as the court for doing its job in trying and convicting a person found with illegally obtained hard currency.

Section 3 is exclusively about Oromia. This section makes it clear that the whole thrust of the document is about finding pretexts and justification for (re)imposing a military rule in Oromia. This section lists down the problems noticed (i.e., the acts that indicate there is a security crisis), the harms sustained, and the emerging trends. Unlawful demonstrations, deaths, damages to property, road blocks, waving of OLF flags on City Squares and in protest demonstrations, and changing local administration (in some localities in Wallaggaa). It also mentions attempts to spread protests to universities and major cities such as Finfinnee. Most outrageous is its allegation that there are attacks on non-Oromos, particularly Tigrians and Amharas.

As ‘Emerging trends’, the manual makes reference to external forces (Egypt and Eritrea are mentioned by name), terrorists, anti-peace elements, and foreign-based media as part of the factors exacerbating the crisis. It also takes issues with the slogans of demonstrators (e.g. the federal system is fake! Remove Federal Police and the Defence Forces from Oromia! We live under the Gadaa system! Release imprisoned Oromo leaders and intellectuals! OLF is ours!, etc) as unconstitutional and even a praise for terrorists. It condemns the waving of resistance flags and wearing of costumes made in the color of the resistance flags, holding sticks, etc as unlawful. It accuses the State Police for not taking heavy handed measures on demonstrators to stop protests. Moreover, after indicating the profile of the demonstrators generally as youthful (between 10 and 16 years of age), it also says that OLF Qeerroos, OFC youth groups, unemployed youth, and young people evicted from the Somali region are among the protesters. (This finger pointing to OLF and OFC Qeerroo is already an attempt at criminalizing by association, but what is curious is their mentioning of the unemployed and the evicts as the culprits!) The section laments the media’s silence on the protests and the fact that some private media who tried to give coverage to the matter are intimidated. (Hint: the tit for tat between ZAMI on the one hand and the Oromia Communications Bureau Head and the Federal Communications Minister on the other!)

The conclusion in section 4 reiterates the central claims that there is a rise challenge to the federal system; that there is a reluctance to implement deep reform; and that the key problem being political, the solution too is political. As a way forward, the ‘manual’ insists on the enhanced implementation of deep reform and the imperative of conducting a coordinated security operations in order to create stability in Oromia. It also gives lip service to the need for security operations to
respect the constitution, rule of law, and principle of neutrality of the Security Forces. It closes with the need for Federal Police to take leadership in coordinating its activities with State police forces.

1. The document seems to have been prepared at the time the regime wanted to declare a state of emergency anew. All the activities it presents as key episodes of chaos that necessitates federal intervention were all being contrived by their own forces. Demonstrations the Qeerroo or the region did not call, waving flags that protesters were not carrying, planting persons carrying bombs in the rallies, shouting slogans the protesters were not interested were all what the regime’s security personnel were busy doing and the so-called private media outlets were widely reporting about and arguing for. When those activities were exposed for what they really were and Oromo activists denounced them, these media outlets were insisting that the protesters are within their rights. Because the Oromia Police handled it with care, the pretext based on which to impose a federal intervention or emergency declaration was put to naught. The ‘manual’ was thus prepared for the emergency or intervention they intended to impose, the emergency or intervention that never was. Now, it is brought back because the army has gone into Oromia uninvited, unconstitutionally, illegally, and illegitimately. This is a post facto justification for what they are already doing illegally. Hence, the title in this post,”from a police state to a POLICE STATE.”

2. The manual is part of the constellation of programs and ideologies justifying the TPLF war on Oromia. Its issue is the protests. The border wars are vindictive wars intended to halt the resistance movement. Hence, the co-equal attribution of blame on Oromia and Somali region without even mentioning the role (and or failure) of the federal army. There is nothing said about the Liyyu police mass killings and evictions of over 693,000 Oromos. Its lamenting the fact that Oromos are mobilized to raise funds for displaced Oromos (and the condemnation of the fundraising events as moments of nationalism) is already indicative of the vindictive posture the Federal Police is taking.

3. Its denunciation of the Oromia police for allowing peaceful protests is a clear evidence that the TPLF wants only violence and mayhem in Oromia.

The manual is yet another tool of pathologizing Oromos as ‘narrow nationalists’ and Oromia as a restive state. It problematizes the State administration’s democratic gestures, thus denying them of the requisite autonomy to handle their own internal matters by themselves. In so doing it denies the Oromia State the capacity for self-rule in federal Ethiopia thereby necessitating federal intervention. The recurrent attempt at fear-mongering among non-Oromos in Oromia is evocative of the colonial trope that Oromia’s leadership is not mature enough to protect its own minorities and that Oromos are hateful of others (part of the discourse of savagery used to describe the utter otherness of the Oromo in the polity). The condescension aside, as someone has said earlier today, the manual is a training manual for another round of bloodshed in Oromia. It seeks to transform the regime from a police state to A POLICE STATE, to make it into what it already is–only quite literally.In doing all this, quite true to character, TPLF continues to trade in fear and terror.