Opening remark of Dr. Shigut Geleta, Oromo Liberation Front, on a conference entitled ‘Women’s Inferno in Ethiopia’ held at European Parliament

Opening remark of Dr. Shigut Geleta, Oromo Liberation Front, on a conference entitled ‘Women’s Inferno in Ethiopia’ held at European Parliament on 22 March 2017

Excellency Ms. Liliana Rodrigues (S&D), MEP and chairperson,

Your excellences Members of the European Parliament, Dear participants, Ladies and Gentlemen,

I would like to thanks the office of the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization (UNPO) and the office of her Excellency Mrs. Liliana Rodrigues (S&D), MEP for Organizing this Conference.

I am honored for having an opportunity to give remarks on the present oppression and gross human rights violations committed by Ethiopian government on all peoples in Ethiopia on behalf of Peoples Alliance for Freedom and Democracy (PAFD). PAFD is a democratic alliance that was established in October 2015 to unite the efforts of five major organizations that represent the aspirations of more than 67% of the nations in Ethiopia. The Alliance intends to transform the current Empire of Ethiopia into free, democratic communities of nations who coexist peacefully, in freely chosen systems of governance.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

As it is unwaveringly confirmed from the electoral result of 2015 national election in which EPRDF claimed it won the 100% seat, nowadays, there is no distinction between legislative, judiciary and Executive body in Ethiopia; as well between party and state. All of them are interwoven in one, that is, EPRDF led by Tigray people liberation front. Thus, it is that the democratic processes in the country are hindered by EPRDF for it has decided to indefinitely clinch to power.  Despite being a state that is party to most United Nations human rights treaties and having specific provisions for democratic and fundamental human rights in its Constitution, the human rights situation in Ethiopia is still horrendous. At present evidences from reports of credible right groups show multitude of human rights violations in Ethiopia, particularly in Oromia, Ogden, Gambelia, Banishing Gomez, Sideman and Amhara regional states, stressing these violations amount to crimes against humanity and the issue of accountability needed to be addressed.

All these human rights violations are ironically underpinned by the geostrategic importance the Horn of Africa linked to the interest of war on terror, proximity to the middle East and international effort on control of piracy. Ethiopia is geopolitically situated to determine the stability of the Horn of Africa. However, the EPDRF that rules by force will neither bring peace to Ethiopia nor to the Horn of Africa, for as long as  the best majority of other nations and nationalities of Ethiopia are excluded from national politics. It is paradoxical that international donors like the European Union (EU) continue patronaging humanitarian and development aid into Ethiopia for its perceived stability role in the Horn of Africa, while the country is marred by volatilities of conflicts instigated by EPRDF regime

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Since the peaceful protests began in mid-November 2015, Oromia is ruled under martial law. The regime established command posts in every village in Oromia and control the movements of people. To make the matter worst, on 9th November 2016, the government declared the State of Emergency. The declared state of emergency was merely to justify the crimes that were already taking place. The regime armed forces forcefully enter individual houses and terrorize children, loot private property, beat, and kill individual at their own home and gang rape as a deliberate military strategy. All peaceful demonstrations were reacted by EPRDF with live bullets and lethal forces on protesting crowd at several places (see June 15, 2016 HRW Report). On Sept. 3, 2016, the Kilinto prison was set on fire and political prisoners were shot under the pretext that they had tried to escape. On Oct. 2, 2016, the regime used hand guns and helicopter gunships at large cultural ceremony (Irrecha) and murdered several people. It is reported that since November 2015, over 2,500 Oromos have been killed. The killing includes unharmful and vulnerable people including children from age 1 to elderly aged 80 and pregnant women All these amount to crimes against humanity that violate several UN Conventions and treaties that Ethiopia is a party to.

The crimes have been committed directly or indirectly by the command of TPLF/ EPRDF officials, military commanders, and members of the security forces. Not only killings but also since November 2015, over 50, 000 Oromos were arrested and detained in different detention camps, without conviction or rare trails and several forced disappearances were recorded. These includes political leaders, journalists, artists and Oromos from all levels of society. Instead of searching for long lasting peace, the regime downplayed the issue to bad governance and reshuffled its cabinets and party appointees.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The fight against the international terrorism is the highest priority for all peace-loving people. It is our believe that the international terrorism is a threat to world peace and against harmoniously living together of the world-population, and therefore with all methods must be inspected. However, dictatorial regimes like the TPLF/EPRDF, that put its own agenda by labelling all its political oppositions as terrorists and use its restrictive self-made Anti-Terrorism Proclamation (adopted in 2009) to justify arrests of journalists, members of the political opposition leaders and innocent civilians must be fought itself.  The government of Ethiopia is using highly armed “Somali Liyu police” for attacking Oromos living adjacent to Somali regional state causing thousands of deaths and “Boko Haram” type of kidnapping women. These all are aimed to move the turbulence from center to the periphery and use divide and rule policy.

Considering the current gross human rights violations under the unjustified state of emergency of Ethiopian regime, it is not enough to only issue statements and resolutions, but to make meaningful actions are needed to stop the crimes against humanity on innocent civilians. The international community and legislative bodies are required to use all their possible influences on the Ethiopian government and facilitate the release of all political prisoners, and to take practical action to promote fundamental democratic changes in Ethiopia.

The EU has bilateral and multi-lateral agreements with Ethiopia. Most of these agreements enshrined human rights protection, good governance, and democratic freedom. However, the EU has failed to force Ethiopia to abide by these agreements. Though major political change comes from the genuine struggle of peoples in Ethiopia, it is our belief that EU policy change on Ethiopia can significantly change the political situation of Ethiopia for good. No action from the international community immediately implies approval of the regime’s violent measures against defenseless civilians. In 2010, Human Rights Watch reported billions of euros for development aid are being diverted by the Ethiopian government to conduct political oppression. We would also like to mention that financial and diplomatic assistance from Western countries have been crucial in maintaining the dictatorial Ethiopian regime and its genocidal act. Regrettably, this trend has continued even under the present alarming situation of political turmoil and at a time the regime failed distributing humanitarian aid to Ogadeni where people are daily dying of malnutrition and cholera. As AI said A preventable disaster like the massive landslide recently happened at rubbish dump at Qoshi, near the capital Addis Ababa that costed hundreds of human lives clearly indicates the government’s irresponsibility on Human and Environmental safety.

Hence, the PAFD strongly appeals and calls all Ethiopia’s political democratic forces to continue their struggle for democratic change in unison and appeals to the EU Parliament and member states to play their role, by refraining from supplying aid to Ethiopia since it failed to respect the conditions that it has to uphold.

Thank you for your attention

Brussels, 22 March, 2017