UK: Public Meeting on the State of Human Rights in Ethiopia
– Source: YouTube.com – Oromo HR
A meeting on the Human Rights Situation in Ethiopia took place at the House of Commons on 26 November 2013. It began by an opening speech of Mr David Anderson (MP), Chairman of All-Party Parliamentary Group on Third World Solidarity – who also highlighted efforts that have been underway to highlight and address allegations of human rights abuses by the government of Ethiopia. He further indicated that, despite the continuous reports of such allegations, the government of Ethiopia has always been dismissive in its response. He then invited speakers.
Dr Trevor Trueman, Chairman of the Oromia Support Group (OSG), was the first person who briefed the audience about the suffering of Oromo refugees who fled Ethiopia and lived in different parts of Africa. Based on factual accounts and stories of Oromo refugees in Kenya, Somalia, Djibouti, South Africa and Egypt, he presented the nature of human rights crisis that the Oromo refugees had to go through while they were in their homeland and after they had left Ethiopia. His evidence-based presentation has shown the prevalence of torture, rape, extrajudicial killings and disappearance of Oromo citizens – all in the name of supporting or being members of the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF). He concluded his presentation by expressing his disappointment on the false promises that continued to be given by the government of the United Kingdom since 1994 – claiming that the UK government could only engage Ethiopia on human rights issues if it continued to provide aid to Ethiopia. No credible measure has been taken to engage the government of Ethiopia to respect human rights over those years, and it is sad to be so, according to him.
Ms Claire Beston, a researcher on Ethiopia and Eritrea at Amnesty International, also highlighted the deteriorating human rights situation, the growing harassment, arrest and accusation of large proportion of Oromos for suspicion and even assumption of supporting or being members to the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF). She particularly emphasized the growing intolerance and clampdown on dissents and the civil society. Based on the experience of what has happened in Libya following the fall of the former regime, she warned that a crackdown on the civil society of today’s Ethiopia may have the same devastating effect on the future of Ethiopia.
In the same way, representatives from Oromo and Ogaden communities, and from Gambella region – Mr. Teshale Aberra, Ms. Leila Hassan and Mr Nyikaw Ochalla, respectively, also presented the growing crisis of human rights violations in their respective regions. All underlined the fact that the United Kingdom, as one of big donors of aid to Ethiopia, shall stop giving the oppressed people the usual false promises of engaging the Ethiopian government on human rights issues. They asked that the UK government shall begin considering the need to take genuine and concrete step to influence the Ethiopian government so that it shall respect human rights, that the government of the UK shall ensure that aid money be used to advance democracy justice and human rights in Ethiopia than advancing repression as reports continued to unravel.
Participants from the audience also emphasized the growing trend of human rights repression in Ethiopia. Mr. Betena, one of the experienced elders and political activists from the Sidama Community, raised one important point regarding the deterioration of human rights violation and total repression under TPLF. Under the current regime, he stated, the number of poor people who need aid increased significantly – that even the imperial regime had been far better than TPLF when it comes to the level of suppressing and impoverishing its own people. He further stated that the talk about development under today’s government is totally false, and based on the increasing number of aid recipients and starving people, he stated that realities on the ground rather show otherwise.
– Source: YouTube.com – Oromo HR