edited by @oromopress
Oromo protest has entered its fourth week. Oromo refugees are protesting against the increasing violence they have been facing in Egypt since the beginning of the Nile crisis between Egypt and Ethiopia. International documents assign “Ethiopia” as the official origin of Oromo refugees, often against their consent. Egypt, the country of asylum for Oromo refugees, is in conflict with Ethiopia over the gigantic dam Ethiopia is building over the Blue Nile. The beating of an Oromo interpreter earlier this month, as well as the evictions of others from their flats or apartments, have probably created the need for Oromos to voice their grievances publicly.
I met the Oromo interpreter, Abdatta and asked him to tell me what happened to him on Thursday evening on the 6th of June, 2013.
“I was in Maadi, on my way back after I visited a friend. Suddenly, two guys approached me. One was older and he had a stick with him. I knew the other one, he is working as a broker, some kind of estate agent who is working in the neighborhood. They asked me : “Where do you come from?” I replied I was a Somali. They said “Why are you lying? We know you are Ethiopian” They pushed me again and again until I was pushed against the cars parked in the street. The oldest man gave me a blow with his stick. The broker slapped me. I tried to defend myself. At that moment, I saw people coming to us. When the others asked “Where is this guy from?” He replied “He is Ethiopian, we have to kick him. They are the people who cut our water.” Some people in the group started to make pig sounds. They had knives and chains and they started to beat me. One of my friends, I was with few minutes before intervened when I was about to be stabbed. They ran after him. The others went on to beat me, to kick me all over my body. I had to do something. I don’t know how I managed to do that, but I found a way to sneak out and I ran. But not for long, they ran behind me and one of them tackled me from behind and and I fell. All of them arrived and hit me with a stick or jumped on me. I saw then that I was very close to the building of my friend where I came from. Then, the building caretaker opened the door. He recognized me because he had opened the door for me when I went out few minutes before. The caretaker begged them: “Please don’t beat him, I know him, his friend is in the building.” Then, the crowd started to insult him “You are also an Ethiopian” “All of you are beating this guy?”the caretaker asked. While they were talking, I managed to walk on my knees and I entered the building and ran upstairs. The guy who had the knife caught up with me. We fought, I managed to push him aside and was able to reach the flat of my friend on the 5th floor. I was covered with blood and had huge bumps on my head.
I received first aid and we called Gumi [an Oromo social worker]. He arrived and took me by taxi to the police. The guy who helped me when I was about to be stabbed also came with us. At the police station, they were two policemen and they refused to take my complaint. Gumi insisted “This guy is injured, we need to report.” I showed them my ID. When he saw my nationality, one of the policeman replied “This is common.”The policeman said to the three of us, “Look at me,” putting his hand on his gun attached to his belt and said, “one bullet is enough for the three of you” and he pointed his finger to us.
After a long discussion during which they said that they did not want to write police report for Ethiopians, another policeman came and said, “We have to write a report for these people.” Then, he told me to write my complaint in my own language and then to give it to my friend to have it translated. I wrote the complaint in Oromo language, Afan Oromo, and Gumi translated it into Arabic. The policeman who asked to write down the report said “So you face this problem because you are Ethiopian?” I said yes. He nodded and said it was ok. He asked another policeman to drive us to the police clinic. The guy took us there. At the police clinic, the staff at the reception asked me to pay 20 pounds. Then, they asked to show them my ID. They saw my nationality and repeated several times “Nationality Ethiopian?!” I replied “Yes I am” as many times as they asked. As you are Ethiopian, you have to pay 40 pounds. I asked “why?” “Because you cut our water and now you have to accept all our orders.” I paid 40 pounds and we went inside.
A doctor came in, sat in front of me and started laughing. He was laughing, laughing, laughing. “Why are you laughing?” we asked. He replied “I can see that you are injured all over your body, but it is not about you, it is about something else.” But why, he did not reply. Then, he said, “to do a certificate for you is useless. I know you are injured, but it is useless.”Eventually, he did the certificate. We went back to the police station, we gave them the certificate and they gave us a file number to follow up with the complaint.
Since the revolution, a lot of Egyptians are carrying arms.