The following is an Urgent Action statement from the Human Rights League of the Horn of Africa (HRLHA). HRLHA is a nonpolitical organization (with the UN Economic and Social Council – (ECOSOC) Consultative Status), which attempts to challenge abuses of human rights of the people of various nations and nationalities in the Horn of Africa.
HRLHA Press Release
January 12, 2014
In the past twenty-two years, the peoples of Ethiopia and the outside world have witnessed the EPRDF Government’s incarceration of hundreds of thousands of Oromo Nationals from all walks of life in jails, unofficial detention centers and concentration camps simply for allegedly being members or supporters of the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF), and some other opposition political organizations. Due to the inappropriate and inhuman treatments by the government security members, hundreds of Oromos have died, suffered from physical disabilities resulting from tortures, and most of those who were taken to court were given harsh sentences, including life in prison and capital punishments or death penalty. Oromo intellectuals, businessmen, and the members of legally operating Oromo parties (for example, the Oromo People’s Congress (OPC) and the Oromo Federalist Democratic Movement (OFDM)) have been among the victims of the EPRDF/TPLF Government’s suppressive political system. The most worrisome is that the Oromo youth, who were even born after the EPRDF/TPLF government came to power, have become the major victims of the Government’s brutalities under the same allegations of supporting and/or sympathizing with Oromo opposition political organizations. In the past decade or so, thousands of young Oromo students of universities, colleges, high schools and intermediate academic institutions have been criminalized for allegedly being member or sympathizers of the Oromo Liberation Front. A lot of them have been killed and tortured, and thousands are still languishing behind bars, while thousands others have been banned from being part of any level of educational opportunities; and, as a result, they have become jobless, homeless, etc. Tenth of thousands have fled their homeland and become refugees in neighboring countries.
In the same manner and for the same reasons, the most recent cases of arrests and imprisonments have taken place in Gujjii Zone of Oromia State. According to the HRLHA’s informant in Gujii, more than 45 Oromo nationals have been arrested by the Federal police forces without court warrant at different times since August 25, 2013 to December 2013. This was mainly in the districts of Gorodolo, Girja and Bore of the Gujjii Zone. Most of the victims of these most recent extrajudicial actions have reportedly been taken a detention centre in Negele Town. Victims of this particular operation include members of the legally operating opposition Oromo political party of the Federalist Congress (OFC), as well as high school teachers, students of elementary and high schools, college and university students in various parts of the Gujjii Zone.
According to reports obtained by HRLHA, on August 25, 2013, the federal police arrested 8 college students from Harekello town in Goro-Dola district; and on the following day, police searched houses of many residents of the town without court warrant, and arrested another 3 more people. Among them was a high school teacher called Gobena Gemeda. The alleged reason for the arrest, detention, and search of homes in this particular campaign was the distribution and posting of leaflets in the town with contents condemning the discrimination of the government against the Gujjii Oromos. Among those who were arrested and detained, 6 people, including kedir A/ Bundha, Gobena Gemeda and Shako Bura, were released after a week; while the following five students are still in detention center in Negele Prison, according to the information HRLHA has obtained.
The legally registered Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC) officials and cadres, who were genuinely working for their people on behalf of their party, were also accused of allegedly being sympathizers of the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) and arrested in Adolla town in Gujjii and in Bule Hora district of Borana Zone. Among them was Mr. Borama Jano, elected parliament member from the districts of Bore and Anna-Sorra. He was arrested on November 15, 2013, and is still detained at Adolla Police Station. Two OFC organizing cadres – Mr. Hirbaayyee Galgalo and Uturaa Adulaa – were arrested in Bulehora Wereda of Borena Zone in December 2013.
The Human Rights League of the Horn of Africa (HRLHA) expresses its deep concern over the safety and well-being of these Oromo nationals who have been picked up arbitrarily from different places at different times and are being held at various detention centers. The Ethiopian government has a well-documented record of gross and flagrant violations of human rights, including the torturing of its own citizens, who were suspected of supporting, sympathizing with and/or being members of the opposition political organizations. There have been credible reports of physical and psychological abuses committed against individuals in Ethiopian official prisons and other secret detention centers.
The HRLHA calls upon the Ethiopia Government to refrain from systematically eliminating the young generation of Oromo nationals and respect all international human rights standards in general, and of civil and political rights of the citizens it has signed in particular. HRLHA demands that the Ethiopian Government unconditionally release those arrested most recently as well as all other political detainees.
HRLHA also calls upon governments of the West, all local, regional and international human rights agencies to join hands and demand the immediate halt of such kinds of extra-judicial actions against one’s own citizens, and release the detainees without any preconditions.
RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send appeals to the Ethiopian Government and its concerned government ministries and/or officials as swiftly as possible, both in English and Amharic, or your own language:
Expressing concerns regarding the apprehension and fear of torture of the citizens who are being held in different detention centers, including the infamous Ma’ikelawi Central Investigation Office; and calling for their immediate and unconditional release;
Requesting to refrain from detaining, harassing, discriminating against Oromo Nationals;
Urging the Ethiopian authorities to ensure that these detainees would be treated in accordance with the regional and international standards on the treatment of prisoners;
Also, send your concerns to diplomatic representatives in Ethiopia – who are accredited to your country.
• Office of Prime Minister of Ethiopia
P.O. Box – 1031, Addis Ababa
Telephone – +251 155 20 44; +251 111 32 41
Fax – +251 155 20 30; +251 155 20 20
• Office of Min. of Justice
P.O. Box 1370, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Fax: +251 11 551 77 75; +251 11 552 08 74
Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights
United Nations Office at Geneva
1211 Geneva 10, Switzerland
Fax: + 41 22 917 9022
(particularly for urgent matters) E-mail: email@example.com
African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR)
48 Kairaba Avenue
P.O. Box 673
Banjul, The Gambia
Tel: (220) 4392 962, 4372070, 4377721 – 23
Fax: (220) 4390 764
Office of the Commissioner for Human Rights
Council of Europe
F-67075 Strasbourg Cedex, FRANCE
Tel: + 33 (0)3 88 41 34 21
Fax: + 33 (0)3 90 21 50 53
U.S. Department of State
Tom Fcansky – Foreign Affairs Officer
Washington, D.C. 20037
Amnesty International – London
Fax number: +44-20-79561157
Human Rights Watch – New York