HRLHA Press Release No. 18, Aug 2009
According to documents obtained by the Human Rights League of the Horn of Africa (HRLHA) from its informants in Addis Ababa, another wave of arrests and imprisonments targeting prominent Oromo intellectuals, students and businessmen is going on in different parts of the State of Oromia, including its capital Addis Ababa. The arbitrary arrests and detentions, which are mainly being carried out by security agents deployed in civilian clothing, started following an updated allegation that the local residents harbor and/or support the opposition armed group – the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF).
With this most recent wave of arrests, dozens of Oromo nationals have already been taken into custody. This includes:
1. Taye Danda’a Araddo, fifth year (prospective graduate) student of Law at the Addis Ababa University,
2. Bayisa Dhaba Lata, employee of Dukam Municipality, southern periphery of the capital, Addis Ababa and,
3. Muse Ali, government employee.
Taye Danda’a Araddo, who was an outstanding student of Law, was only three days away from his graduation when he was arrested; and he had been offered a teaching position at the same university.
Article 17, No. 2 of the Constitution of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia states that “no person may be subjected to arbitrary arrest, and no person may be detained without a charge or conviction against him.” However, Taayyee Danda’a Araddo, Bayisa Dhaba Lata and Muse Ali were detained on July 23, 2009 without any court warrant. Taye was picked up from in front of the Addis Ababa University (Main Campus) by security agents in civilian clothing.
The report also indicates that Taye has been an active participant in the Union of Oromo Students at the University. This year in particular, he was one of the organizers of this academic year’s graduation ceremony and coordinator of graduation bulletin of Oromo students, which was said to have been banned from publication. While studying at the University, Taye was also serving as the senior supervisor of the Afan Oromo Club at the University. The report obtained by HRLHA also states that this was not the first time for Taye Araddo to be imprisoned extra-judicially. He spent three years without verdict from 2004 to 2006, although he was eventually acquitted.
Taye Danda’a, Bayisa Dhaba Lata and Muse Ali are currently being held incommunicado at the Maikelawi Office of Central Criminal Investigation in Addis Ababa. Family members, friends and lawyers of the detainees have been denied visits.
HRLHA is highly concerned that due processes are very unlikely in such situations, and that the safety situation of Mr. Taye and other detainees is not known. HRLHA fears that the detainees might be tortured.
In the past seventeen or so years, thousands of Oromos have been abducted, detained, and many of them disappeared and were tortured, on suspicions of having links with the Oromo Liberation Front/OLF. The OLF has been fighting the Ethiopian government in eastern, southern and western Oromia region and other areas since 1973. HRLHA believes that all the detainees held on these grounds have been innocent people minding their own daily lives and who have not been involved in or advocated violence.
HRLHA is highly concerned about the safety of the local residents, in general, and of those who have already been taken into custody. It believes that this action of the Ethiopian Government is in violation of fundamental political and cultural rights, which are enshrined in the Ethiopian Constitution. It also believes that such extrajudicial harassment and intimidation would worsen the humanitarian crisis that has continued to hit the country.
HRLHA calls upon governments of the West, all local, regional and international human rights agencies to join hands and demand the immediate stop of this mass arrests and imprisonments of innocent Oromo civilians and the release all political prisoners.
The Human Rights League of the Horn of Africa/HRLHA is a non-political organization which attempts to challenge abuses of human rights of the peoples of various nations and nationalities in the Horn of Africa. HRLHA is aimed at defending fundamental human rights including freedoms of thought, expression, movement and organization. It is also aimed at raising the awareness of individuals about their own basic human rights and that of others. It has intended to work on the observances as well as due processes of law. It promotes the growth and development of free and vigorous civil societies.