Remembering the October 2, 2016 Irreecha Massacre at Hora Arsadi Commemoration Event – Washington, DC 

Remembering the October 2, 2016 Irreecha Massacre at Hora Arsadi Commemoration Event – Washington, DC   

Event Scheduled:  September 30, 2018

Last year on Sunday, October 1, 2017 in Washington, DC, the Macha and Tulama Association organized a successful commemoration event to honor the victims of the October 2, 2016 Irreecha Massacre. Again, Board members of the Macha Tulama Association have decided to continue that tradition.  MTA will organize a second commemoration event in Washington DC on September 30, 2018.  It will provide an occasion to ensure that the world is reminded of the sacrifices made to uphold deeply held values of reconciliation and peace that are celebrated by millions of people at Irreecha.

The Oromo Irreecha festival remains to be the single largest spiritual and cultural gathering on the continent of Africa. For instance, in 2017 over five million Oromo men and women of every age, religion, and from every walk of life peacefully celebrated their most sacred day in the Oromo calendar. Yet on October 2, 2016 hundreds died at the hands of the TPLF security forces.

We urge  Oromo Diaspora in the United States and wherever they may live across the globe to organize events to remember October 2, 2016 massacre choosing dates that work in their communities. Invite Oromo and non-Oromo to provide a platform for the world to better understand the meaning of Irreecha and the light it sheds on Oromo aspirations for a society where people are reconciled to one another and with the natural world.

The victims of this henious massacre were present at Irreecha that day to recognize sacred Oromo principles that are universally held dear, particularly peace, justice and reconcilitation among people and with the environment.  It is our hope that the commemoration will give us a platform to articulate and help the world to understand the meaning of the joyful and celebratory occaision on which hundreds of lives were snuffed out in the midst of gladness and pride in tradition. We want focus on what those innocent vicitims sacrificed for on that horrible day.  If we don’t do this, their loss is in vain and the ignorance of those responsible for their deaths will continue.  The world doesn’t know what Irreecha is.  The international media still refer to the event as a “violent demonstration.” Nothing could be further from the truth.  But such misunderstandings dominate the explanation of what happened there.  Worse yet, the world forgets this unjustified and unjustifiable tragedy.  We in Macha Tulama want to keep alive the memory of both the victims and the values.

In an inspiring speech the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, “ The moral arc of the universe is long, but it bends toward Justice”.  By  organizing a commemoration event for those who were massacred on October 2, 2016, we help “bend that moral arc” a little closer to Justice; which means the day when the Ethiopia accepts full responsibility for the massacre its security forces committed,  brings to justice  those who committed  this  crime against humanity,  pays compensation to the victims families, builds statue with the names of all victims, and legalizes the  annual commemoration event of the October 2, 2016 massacre.

The facts are these:  on October 2, 2016, at Lake Hora Arsadi, the Oromos’ most sacred site, armed TPLF security forces surrounded millions of celebrants, flew military helicopters overhead, provoked the attendees’ discontent by dishonoring their leaders and interfering with the ritual procedures, and then drove hundreds of people to their deaths when the crowds expressed dismay and displeasure. There is undisputed evidence that the incident, placing tens of thousands of unsuspecting festival-goers at risk, turned the holy grounds of a cherished observance into a killing field where 678 peaceful celebrants were killed, and twice that number wounded. The history of modern Ethiopia includes many instances of killings by government security forces, but none equals to that of the massacre on October 2, 2016.  Two years after that tragedy, not a single individual involved in carrying out that heinous massacre has been brought to trial in Ethiopia. A fact that shows the TPLF leaders’ contempt for Oromo people and their devaluing of Oromo life.

Those who lost their lives through deliberate intent on October 2, 2016 represent the true spirit of Oromo national consciousness. By their sacrifice, they have won a lasting place in the hearts of the Oromo people. Their loss inspires us to double and triple our efforts to observe the true spirit of the annual Irreecha festival.  It also reminds us to keep their memory alive by working until those who committed the crime against humanity are held accountable, i.e., charged, tried and convicted in a court of law.

The upcoming September 30, 2018 commemoration is organized not only to honor those who were massacred but also to bring attention to the yearly Irreecha festival, which nourishes the Oromo yearning for freedom, human dignity, peace, reconciliation and harmony between people and their environment.  Through their struggle and sacrifice the Oromo are slowly but surely becoming the major force for peace and democratic governance in Ethiopia and the Horn of Africa.

Board members of the Macha and Tulama Association request the Oromo Diaspora in the United States, Canada and beyond to support us in organizing the second Irreecha Massacre Commemoration event in Washington DC.  It will be a solemn occasion for honoring those who lost their precious lives on the sacred space on October 2, 2016.  It will also demonstrate that those who authorized that massacre will never be able to kill the spirit of freedom and human dignity that the Irreecha festival sustains in the heart, mind and soul of the Oromo nation.

Finally, our yearly commemoration of the October 2, 2016 Irreecha Massacre is to make sure regarding our most sacred site at Hora Arsadi that it will “never, never and never again” be drenched with the blood of peaceful celebrants!

We offer profound gratitude for all who join us for this solemn occasion.

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