by Mengistu D. Assefa
This is a headline on the Ethiopian Reporter today.
“ፌዴራል ፖሊስ “ቄሮ” በተባለው የወጣቶች እንቅስቃሴ ላይ ጥልቅ ምርመራ ሊያደርግ መሆኑ ተሰማ”
What does it even mean to (deeply) investigate Qeerroo? The Reporter puts its article the way that led me to think that the Federal Police defines Qeerroo as some sort of institution that is comprised of criminals instigating conflicts and hampering the ” legally put administrative proceedings”. Who are the Qeerroo anyway?
Let me help them understand the gravity of the dangerous game the FDRE is planning to play.
Qeerroo is an Afaan Oromoo term ascribed to youth (traditkonally male?). Its etymology stems from the word “Qeerrensa/Qeerransa” whose literal meaning is “tiger”. My literal meaning of Qeerroo is ” Tiger-ish” Tiger is a symbol of fierce fighter, a dignified creature, energetic and unyielding to compromise of any sort if it touches its survival and dignity. This is how the Oromo (in their Gadaa System) define the young men who are defenders of survival and dignity, full of energy and enthusiasm. Qeerroo are the youth social strata of Gadaa Sysytem estimated to amount nearly 10 million in number.
Let me leave the rest to linguists and ethno anthropologists and explain the political significance. The present day Qeerroo is Oromo Protests is no exception. It is not an institution. It isn’t a group. Qeerroo is an idea today. An idea of cultured resistance. Qeerroo rightly represents a relentless pursuit of liberty, equipped with mental readiness and resilience which leaves no stone unturned to get what it pursues.
Qeerroo is a wave above the tank of oppression. It is an idea of perpetual sacrificial progress towards rights and social equity. These days youths by the label of Qeerroo aren’t at the point of no return, because for them return isn’t an option and there isn’t a point of such sort. In Ethiopia Qeerroo fought and shocked it to its core one of the most repressive systems in Africa and made it respond finally (part of their demands of course). They are shields of the country who guarded human rights, and in its bid paid their limbs and lives. Hence, what or (who) is the Federal Police targeting now? If what and who is Qeerroo is the target, good luck with running against the wall!
For the government that repeatedly proved itself to be the stumble on the path to human rights, the news didn’t take me by surprise. In the meantime I have to reiterate that violence in any form is morally against the question of democracy and human rights. Qeerroo, for most part of their resistance practice, have acted responsibly and compared to what they faced in the face of state brutality the damage they have caused is insignificant. This by no means doesn’t endorse any violent incidents that might have resulted in loss of lives and resources, physical and psychological pain on any person during the resistance.
So the Ethiopian government has to reconsider its already failed strategy of launching a crackdown on Qeerroo and rather open up for political dialogue. The Qeerroo have already had enough of the arrests, politically motivated charges, tortures and killings from what the same government has drawn its very existence. Trying to fighting Qeerroo, simply put is trying to intimidating Tiger and hence has to be unconditionally stopped for the betterment of our already ailing political landscape.