Sidama Liberation Front

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Actualisation of the Sidama Statehood Is a Victory for the Multinational Federalism in Ethiopia.

Press Release by the Sidama National Liberation Front (SNLF)

June 21. 2020

The Sidama nation officially became the 10th National Regional State of the Ethiopian Federation on 18 June 2020 following power transfer by the Council of the Southern Regional State (SNNPRS) to the Sidama nation as stipulated in article 47(3) (d) of the constitution of the country. The Sidama nation voted in a referendum on November 20, 2019 in which 97.7% of the 2.3 million voters endorsed self rule. It took over 7 months for the government to recognize the sovereignty of the people enshrined in the constitution to officially form the Sidama National Regional State (SNRS) as the 10th Regional State of the Ethiopian Federation. Although the delay was unjustified by any stretch of imagination, the recognition of the decision of the people and their inalienable right to self rule is a welcome development.

The Sidama nation has paid massive sacrifices for self-determination within the Ethiopian empire. Resistance against the forced annexation into the Abyssinian Empire in 1892 was immediate. The Sidama nation defeated the first wave of colonial attack by King Minelik’s forces led by Beshah Aboye in 1891 in the northern front and was subdued only a year later by the forces led by Leul Seged, which attacked in the Eastern front in 1892. The forced annexation was followed by the imposition of archaic feudal system which dispossessed the main means of production, land, from the tillers and converted the peasantry into serfdom. It created a patron-client or ‘Nefxenya- Gabbar system that brutally suppressed and economically exploited the Sidama nation and the oppressed south until the 1974 revolution overthrew the feudal monarchy and returned land to the tiller in 1975.

The Sidama nation waged relentless adhoc and organized armed struggle against the feudal as well as the military regimes. Over 15, 000 Sidama freedom fighters and civilians sacrificed their lives during the resistance against the feudal and military regimes. The 1978-1984 civil war in Sidama against the socialist Derg was the hallmark of the Sidama resistance for self-rule. So were the uprisings of Borricha and Wotara Rassa against the military regime in which hundreds of Sidama civilians sacrificed their lives.    

The struggle for self rule continued during the past 29 years due to the gross injustice against the Sidama nation by the TPLF dominated EPRDF regime which violated the constitutional right of the Sidama nation to self-rule. The TPLF/EPRDF regime massacred over 69 Sidama civilians in Loqqee, Hawassa on 24 May 2002 for demanding this very same constitutional right.

The current regime also attempted to violently suppress the Sidama quest for self-rule even after both the Sidama Council and the SNNPRS council adopted the demand to establish own regional state and requested the National Election Board of Ethiopia to conduct the referendum. The July 18, 2019 (11/11/11 EC) massacre of over 153 Sidama civilians was a yet another violent attempt by the current regime to derail the Sidama demand for self-rule.

These brutal suppressions and violence against the Sidama nation never broke the will and determination of the Sidama nation to realize self-rule. The heroic resistance of the young Sidama lions and lionesses, the male and female Sidama Ejjeetto ushered in the victory for the Sidama nation and the entire multinational Federalists. The resistance by the Sidama youth Ejjeetto and progressive pro-Sidama rights political leaders in the past two years was underpinned by the revolution of 2015-2018 spearheaded by the Oromo youth Qeerroo that toppled the brutal EPRDF’s regime. That is why the victory of the Sidama nation is the victory of the Oromo nation and other multinational Federalist forces in the country.

The SNRS, the 10th Regional State of Ethiopia is the only regional state established through a constitutional process involving a referendum in Ethiopia. It is a regional state created by the people for the people. The only sovereign authority in SNRS therefore is the Sidama people. Thus, the SNLF earnestly advises and strongly warns the federal government and the Sidama leaders that:

  1. The Sidama nation will choose the leaders of its new Regional State through its Council based on their capacity, skills, integrity and track record. The Sidama nation vehemently rejects any attempt by the federal government to appoint the President of the Sidama State from Finfinnee (Addis Ababa). Doing so will violate the fundamentals of the very right to self-rule the Sidama nation has achieved via a referendum and the separation of power between the federal government and states.
  2. The Sidama leaders should immediately present the constitution of the SNRS to the Sidama people and finalize based on the decision of the majority.
  3. Release all Sidama political prisoners languishing in Sidama and Hosaina jails for demanding the very same right to self rule.
  4. The  current leaders of Sidama should desist from taking unilateral decisions including imposition of a new flag that has no history with the struggle for self rule. The flag which our Ejjeetto held during the 11/11/11 massacre is embedded in the struggle for self-rule and internationally recognized as the flag of SNRS. Any attempt to change this flag is an attempt to undermine the struggle of the Sidama nation.
  5. The SNRS is a model for self-rule not only in Ethiopia, but also in the entire African continent. The success or failure of Sidama state has far reaching implications on the struggle of the other oppressed nations in the continent for freedom. We must therefore jealously safeguard and protect the hard-won freedom to self-rule.
  6. Unconditionally supporting the struggles of all the amalgamated nations in the SNNPRS to self-rule; the SNLF calls upon Federalists forces in Ethiopia to standby the Sidama nation in solidarity as the nation begins to build its new state that addresses over century old yearning of the nation for equality, justice, poverty eradication, socio-economic progress and genuine democracy.
  7. The official language of the Sidama National Regional State will remain only Sidaamu-afoo.
  8. Finally, the SNLF calls up all the Sidama people to maintain its impregnable unity by rejecting the enemies plot of dividing and weakening the nation in order for them to have upper hand in a newly established Sidama State.   

Victory for all oppressed nations in Ethiopia!! The SNLF, June 21 2020