Breaking the Silence: the Hard Truth about the Oromo Nation Uprising in Ethiopia

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By admin on January 3, 2016.

HRLHA-FineHRLHA Appeal and Request for immediate Action

January 3, 2016

Appeal To:

The US Department of State Secretary
His Excellency Mr. John Kerry
WASHINGTON, D.C. HEADQUARTERS>
(202) 895-3500
OFMInfo@state.gov
Office of Foreign Missions
2201 C Street NW
Room 2236
Washington, D.C. 20520
Customer Service Center
3507 International Place NW
Washington, D.C. 20522-3303

UK  Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs
The Rt Hon Philip Hammond MP
Parliamentary
House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA
Tel:  020 7219 4055
Fax: 020 7219 5851
Email: hammondp@parliament.uk
Departmental
Foreign and Commonwealth Office, King Charles Street,
London, SW1A 2AH
Tel:  020 7008 1500
Email: fcocorrespondence@fco.gov.uk

Minister of Foreign Affairs (Canada)
 His Excellency  Stéphane Dion
Write to:
Enquiries Service (BCI)
Global Affairs Canada
125 Sussex Drive
Ottawa, ON
K1A 0G2
Email: Enquiry Service – On line form
Canada

Minister for Foreign Affairs (Sweden)
Her Excellency Margot Wallström
Switchboard:  +46 8 405 10 00
Street address: Rosenbad 4
Postal address: SE 103 33 Stockholm

Minister of Foreign Affairs (Normway)
His Excellency BørgeBrende  
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
E-mail: post@mfa.no
Phone:  + 47 23 95 00 00
Address: 7. juniplassen 1, N-0032 Oslo

Dear Sir/ Madam,

First of all, using this opportunity, let me introduce to you the Human Rights League of the Horn of Africa (HRLHA)

“The Human Rights League of the Horn of Africa (HRLHA) was originally founded in Ethiopia in 1996 by the name “Human Rights League (HRL)”; it was silenced at the outset by the Country’s authoritarian regime. It was then re-launched from the Diaspora in 2007 by exiled founders and members of the HRL.  It was then re-named the Human Rights League of the Horn of Africa (HRLHA), and registered as a non – profit and non – political organization in Ontario, Canada on the 14th of June 2007.

HRLHA aims to defend fundamental human rights including freedoms of thought, expression and assembly or organization. It also works to raise the awareness of individuals regarding their own basic human rights and those of others. It insists on the observances of international and regional treaties, protocols, covenants, instruments, agreements, etc. on human rights as well as due processes of related laws. It promotes the growth and development of free and vigorous civil societies”.

Oromo Nations Uprising: Ethiopia at the Cross Road:

When the current government of Ethiopia seized power by toppling the military dictatorship of Mengistu Hailemariam in 1991,  Ethiopia and all  friends of Ethiopia hoped for democracy and equality in the country. In the  Transitional Period Charter of Ethiopia of 1991, Federalism was introduced- the idea of “self-determination for the nationalities”[1] Part one Article 2 (c), devolving  political, administrative and economic power to ethnically define regional states.

The 1995 constitution[2] assured that both the federal and the regional governments had their own legislative, judicial and executive powers and the right to levy taxes and allocate budgets. The federal government, with a bicameral parliament and a constitutional president, were assigned the responsibility for national defense, foreign relations, and for setting national standards for major policies. Regional governments, governed by the state president/chief executive and the state council and the woreda (district) councils, were empowered to establish their own administrations and formulate and execute economic, social and political strategies and plans.

However, all these promises were dashed, and remain on paper only, used for political consumption by the Federal Authorities. As a result,all regional States, including Oromia Regional State, fell under the indirect administration of the Federal Government. Political power and economic resources, including  Oromo land, were controlled by the Federal Government of Ethiopia cheaply leased to foreign investors over the period of 50-99 years[3]. Land leases were undertaken without consultation and compensation for the landowners. Millions of  Oromos lost their livelihoods and  became landless. They are now homeless and beggars.

The Cause of the Recent  Oromo Nation Uprising:

Oromia Regional State is Ethiopia’s largest and most populous federal with around one-third of the nation’s over 92 million people[4]

The Ethiopian Federal Government illegally sold Oromo land, including urban land, in the city of Addis Ababa which is the center of Oromia Regional State. The suburban areas around the city of Addis Ababa were sold to investors and the rest has been given to Government officials. The government then  expanded its activity towards the small towns around the capital city; it planned to integrate the surrounding 36 small towns of Oromia into the capital city in order to sell them. From inside the Capital city alone over 300,000 citizens were evicted and their land was given to the government officials and cadres for free. The new plan, “Addis Ababa Integrated Plan” was aimed at  evicting of around  two million farmers from and around the 36 towns. This Plan was first confronted by the OPDO cadres, the Oromo wing political organization within the government  in April 2014  and  then spread to all corners of Oromia Regional State; over 79 Oromos, mostly students, were murdered and over 30,000 were detained by the Federal government special force “Agazi”.  Peaceful protestors against the plan have been murdered or treated inhumanely and scilenced. The Federal Government of Ethiopia reactivated the Integration plan of Addis Ababa  implementation idea  in November  2015 without making any improvements and vowed to take serious action against any person or organization opposed to the implementation. This reckless move of the Ethiopian Government reignited the anger of the Oromo people and brought them to the streets to peacefully  protest against the master plan.

The Government of Ethiopia’s special force “Agazi” again took brutal action and  more than 200 Oromos were cold blooded including, children, teachers, men and women from 7 to 80 years age[5]; hundreds were wounded, and around 40, 000 detained.

Key International Actors

However, donor governments and western government agencies, such as  the European Union, World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) continued their policy of engagement with the government of Ethiopia. Donors failed to publicly confront the government over its poor human rights record and to press it to respect and protect everyone’s rights.

The Human Rights League of the Horn of Africa and Other International Human Rights Organizations  such as Amnesty International[6], Human Rights Watch[7] and UN Human Rights Council branch UPR[8]  and others repeatedly reported  on  the poor human rights record of the Government of Ethiopia and the gross human rights violations of the Ethiopian Government against its citizens

Dear Sir/Madam,

As the main part of  its activities, the HRLHA has released reports of  several human rights infringements in Ethiopia in general and in Oromia Regional State in particular in the past several years.

The HRLHA reported in its recent release that the Oromia Regional State has fallen under military[9]control /State Emergency since December 15, 2015. The head of the country, Prime Minister Haile Mariam Dessalegn, has come out on state television and vowed to mercilessly crush peaceful protestors. As per his order, hundreds of Oromo children were murdered and thousands were detained. The HRLHA considers the prime minister’s declaration to be genocidal against the Oromo peaceful demonstrators. From the day of his speech, the special force “Agazi” has engaged in indiscriminate killings and any Oromo found outdoors faces its brutal actions. Presently all Oromos are  essentially under house arrest without adequate food and water  and in poor sanitation.  This kind of inhuman treatment is purely  government killing, a”democide”[10].

Dear Sir/Madam,

HRLHA is deeply concerned that if International Communities fail in responding  to the killings presently taking place in Oromia Regional State as soon as possible , this could lead to a genocide comparable to those in Rwanda (1994), in Yugoslavia (1998) and  in Darfur, Sudan (2003).

Therefore, the HRLHA respectfully demands that your government break its silence about the hard truth and requests your government:

  1. To  use its influence to put pressure on the  Ethiopian government to respect  international human rights, its own promised obligations and as well  domestic and International laws and refrain from its ethnic cleansing and respect the fundamental rights of Oromo Nation
  2. To intervene to stop the killings in Oromia using the mandate of  the three pillars of the responsibility to protect, as stipulated in the Outcome Document of the 2005 United Nations World Summit (A/RES/60/1, para. 138-140) and formulated in the Secretary – General’s 2009 Report (A/63/677) on implementing the responsibility to protect :[11]
  1. The State carries the primary responsibility for protecting populations from genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing, and their incitement;
  2. The international community has a responsibility to encourage and assist States in fulfilling this responsibility;
  3. The international community has a responsibility to use appropriate diplomatic, humanitarian and other means to protect populations from these crimes. If a State is manifestly failing to protect its populations, the international community must be prepared to take collective action to protect populations, in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations.

Copied To:

1. UN  Secretary  – General
His Excellency Mr. Ban Ki –  Moon

Executive Office of the Secretary-General
http://www.un.org/sg/

2. The UN Human Rights Commissioner
Mr. Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein

OHCHR address:
Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR)
Palais Wilson
52 rue des Pâquis
CH-1201 Geneva, Switzerland.

3. African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights
31 Bijilo Annex Layout, Kombo North District
Western Region P.O. Box 673 Banjul
The Gambia
Tel: (220) 441 05 05, 441 05 06
Fax: (220) 441 05 04
E-mail: au-banjul@africa-union.org

[1] Transitional Period of Ethiopia http://www.constitutionnet.org/files/ethiopia_transitional_period_charter_of_ethiopia_1991-1995.pdf

[2]Constitution of the Federal Republic of Ethiopia, http://www.wipo.int/edocs/lexdocs/laws/en/et/et007en.pdf

[3] Oakland Institute,,http://www.oaklandinstitute.org/green-rush

[4]https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/et.html

[5]Oromia Regional State Under Seige, http://www.humanrightsleague.org/?p=15667

[6]‘Because I am Oromo’ Sweeping repression in the Oromia region of Ethiopiafile:///C:/Users/Garoma/Downloads/afr250062014en%20(2).pdf

[7]Dispatches: Yet Again, a Bloody Crackdown on Protesters in Ethiopiahttps://www.hrw.org/news/2015/12/05/dispatches-yet-again-bloody-crackdown-protesters-ethiopia

[8] UN Human Rights, Office of the High Commisionerhttp://www.ohchr.org/en/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=15074&LangID=E

[9]Oromia Regional State Under Seige, http://www.humanrightsleague.org/?p=15667

[10]https://www.hawaii.edu/powerkills/CHARNY.CHAP.HTM

[11] Office of the special advisor on the prevention of Genocide,  http://www.un.org/en/preventgenocide/adviser/responsibility.shtml