Ethiopia: ‘We are oppressed…All people are equal and that should be ensured’ says Jaal Marroo’s brother

By Jaysim Hanspal

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Posted on December 7, 2021 13:44

Screenshot 2021-12-07 at 14.28.19 © Sisay Diriba Lemessa,brother of OLA leader Jaal Marroo (photo: Facebook)
Sisay Diriba Lemessa,brother of OLA leader Jaal Marroo (photo: Facebook)

Jaal Marroo, leader of the Oromo Liberation Army (OLA), is an enigma. Despite his position as a leader of the rebel forces in the current Ethiopian war, and his strong feelings about the treatment of the Oromo population, little is known about Marroo or his family. We find out more in the exclusive interview with his brother Sisay Diriba Lemessa.

The last public statement Marroo made was as Tigrayan and Oromo joint forces descended towards the capital Addis Abba on 7 November.

“What I am sure [of] is that it is going to end very soon. We are preparing to push for another launch, and for another attack. The government is just trying to buy time, and they are trying to instigate [a] civil war in this country, so they are calling for the nation to fight,” Marroo said in an interview with AFP.

Marroo’s brother, Sisay Diriba Lemessa, is an economics lecturer at Haramaya University in Ethiopia. He is currently a research fellow at Harvard University in the US, specialising in agricultural economics. He has not had contact with his brother in 18 years after Marroo joined the rebel alliance as a student at Addis Abba University.

In this exclusive interview with The Africa Report, Lemessa discusses the repercussions his family has faced as a result of Jaal Marroo’s actions as part of the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF).

Presented here is a transcript, with light editing for clarity.

Checking the facts

The Africa Report: There are lots of rumours about your brother circulating online, with Twitter and Facebook accounts claiming to be him. Are these, and the messages they relay, authentic?

Sisay Diriba Lemessa: First of all, I want to make myself clear, number one I am an academician, and number two I don’t represent anyone. I don’t really present any organisation, any political party, any group. So I’m an individual.

The online accounts are pretending and perplexing and probably from government authorities, or even rebel groups. There are several accounts on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram disseminating information which just doesn’t represent his ideas or his organisation.”

There are reports on an obscure Twitter subreddit that claimed your mother was beaten and left for dead in the street. Did this happen?

Yes, I would like to talk about this in detail.

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