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Ethiopia’s Oromo diaspora uses Web to dissent, debate in absence of press freedom
By Emily Wax
There may be at least four different factions with varying viewpoints on whether the Oromo, the largest ethnic group in Ethiopia, should pursue the birth of an independent country or reform the existing Ethiopian state.
But one thing is clear: social media and the Internet have become a powerful tool for debate among the Oromo diaspora, which stretches from Minnesota to Washington D.C. to the Netherlands. Online, the diaspora discusses issues that range from the persecution of the Oromo back in Ethiopia to the infighting among Oromo political factions outside the country. The Oromo number as many as 40 million, according to some estimates.
The Web site conversation comes at a time when the Ethiopian government has been accused of cracking down on and jailing both Oromo leaders and people from its domestic media. Ethiopia is “the second-leading jailer of journalists in Africa,” only after its arch-foe Eritrea, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists. It has one of the largest numbers of exiled journalists in the world, the committee says.
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