Monthly Archives: November 2014

Oromo business owner wins African Australian Business of the Year award

Gemeda Adem outside his business Total Print Solutions.

Gemeda Adem outside his business Total Print Solutions. Source: News Limited

BY HELPING others build their businesses, Footscray’s Gemeda Adem has also built his own.

Mr Adem created Total Print Solutions working alone from one small room six years ago.

Today, he has a thriving company with seven employees and a customer base across Australia.

Mr Adem’s business was recently (November 7) named African Australian Business of the Year at the Celebration of African Australian National Awards presented at Parliament House in Melbourne.

The company does design work, printing, signs and website development.

“I started (working) in a small room, then a two room office, now we’re in a two-storey building and I employ many young people from the community from all cultures,’’ he said.

A former Western Chances scholarship recipient, Mr Adem said he has been successful because he actively approached African Australian business people in Footscray and showed them the benefits they could achieve with consistent branding for their businesses, while keeping his own prices affordable.

“I feel like everyone deserves a chance to achieve their dream, and no support is ever too small,’’ Mr Adem said.

“I spoke the language so I went into their shops and explained to them a new perspective about updating their signage and logos and giving it all a professional look.’’

Mr Adem, who is from the Oromo community speaks Oromo, Amharic, English and some Arabic and Somali.

He said receiving the award was an honour and a big deal for the whole community.

The aim of the Celebration of African Australians Awards is to celebrate and showcase the contributions of African Australians to the broader community, and identify role models who will serve as mentors to young African Australians.

Source: http://www.heraldsun.com.au/leader/west/footscray-business-owner-gemeda-adem-wins-african-australian-business-of-the-year-award/story-fngnvmj7-1227120725622?nk=13d8f26f7a58aefd40996446adb4cb84

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Amnesty Says Ethiopia Detains 5,000 Oromos Illegally Since 2011

October 27, 2014


Victims include politicians, students, singers and civil servants, sometimes only for wearing Oromo traditional dress, or for holding influential positions within the community, the London-based advocacy group said in a report today. Most people were detained without charge, some for years, with many tortured and dozens killed, it said.

“The Ethiopian government’s relentless crackdown on real or imagined dissent among the Oromo is sweeping in its scale and often shocking in its brutality,” Claire Beston, the group’s Ethiopia researcher, said in a statement. “This is apparently intended to warn, control or silence all signs of ‘political disobedience’ in the region.”

The Oromo make up 34 percent of Ethiopia’s 96.6 million population, according to the CIA World Factbook. Most of the ethnic group lives in the central Oromia Regional State, which surrounds Addis Ababa, the capital. Thousands of Oromo have been arrested at protests, including demonstrations this year against what was seen as a plan to annex Oromo land by expanding Addis Ababa’s city limits.

Muslims demonstrating about alleged government interference in religious affairs were also detained in 2012 and 2013, Amnesty said in the report, titled: ‘Because I am Oromo’ – Sweeping Repression in the Oromia Region of Ethiopia.

Government Denial

The state-run Oromia Justice Bureau said the findings were “far from the truth” in a reply to Amnesty included in the report. “No single individual has been and would not be subjected to any form of harassment, arrest or detention, torture for exercising the freedom of expression or opinion.”

The majority of detainees are accused of supporting the Oromo Liberation Front, which was formed in 1973 to fight for self-determination, according to Amnesty.

Senior Oromo politicians Bekele Gerba and Olbana Lelisa were jailed in 2012 for working with the group, which was classified as a terrorist organization by lawmakers in 2011.

“The accusation of OLF support has often been used as a pretext to silence individuals openly exercising dissenting behavior,” Amnesty said.

The bulk of Amnesty’s information came from interviews with 176 refugees in Kenya, Somalia and Uganda in July this year and July 2013. More than 40 telephone and e-mail conversations were also conducted with people in Ethiopia, it said.

Some interviewees said they fled the country because of conditions placed on them when released, such as being told to avoid activism, meeting in small groups, or associating with relatives who were political dissenters, the report said.

Amnesty has been banned from Ethiopia since 2011 when its staff was deported.

To contact the reporter on this story: William Davison in Addis Ababa at wdavison3@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Antony Sguazzin at asguazzin@bloomberg.net Paul Richardson, Karl Maier

Source: http://www.businessweek.com/news/2014-10-27/amnesty-says-ethiopia-detains-5-000-oromos-illegally-since-2011

(A4O, 1 November 2014) A new report released on Tuesday by an international human rights group said Ethiopia has “ruthlessly targeted” the Oromo people, the country’s its largest ethnic group.

Amnesty International said thousands of Oromo people had been systematically subjected to unlawful killings, torture and enforced disappearance.

“Because I am Oromo” – Sweeping repression in the Oromia region of Ethiopia exposes how Oromos have been regularly subjected to arbitrary arrest, prolonged detention without charge, enforced disappearance, repeated torture and unlawful state killings as part of the government’s incessant attempts to crush dissent.

The report said at least 5,000 Oromos had been arrested between 2011 and 2014 for their “actual or suspected peaceful opposition to the government”.

“The Ethiopian government’s relentless crackdown on real or imagined dissent among the Oromo is sweeping in its scale and often shocking in its brutality,” said Amnesty International researcher Claire Beston.

Amnesty said that the majority of the Oromo people were targeted over their alleged support to the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF), a group that is fighting for the self-determination of the Oromo people.

The report was compiled based on testimonies from 200 exiled Oromo people, including former detainees.

Torture

Amnesty International’s report documents regular use of torture against actual or suspected Oromo dissenters in police stations, prisons, military camps and in their own homes.

A teacher told how he had been stabbed in the eye with a bayonet during torture in detention because he refused to teach propaganda about the ruling party to his students.

A young girl said she had hot coals poured on her stomach while she was detained in a military camp because her father was suspected of supporting the OLF.

A student was tied in contorted positions and suspended from the wall by one wrist because a business plan he prepared for a university competition was deemed to be underpinned by political motivations.

Former detainees repeatedly told of methods of torture including beatings, electric shocks, mock execution, burning with heated metal or molten plastic and rape, including gang rape.

Although the majority of former detainees interviewed said they never went to court, many alleged they were tortured to extract a confession.

“We interviewed former detainees with missing fingers, ears and teeth, damaged eyes and scars on every part of their body due to beating, burning and stabbing – all of which they said were the result of torture,” said Claire Beston.

Detainees are subject to miserable conditions, including severe overcrowding, underground cells, being made to sleep on the ground and minimal food. Many are never permitted to leave their cells, except for interrogation and, in some cases, aside from once or twice a day to use the toilet. Some said their hands or legs were bound in chains for months at a time.

As Ethiopia heads towards general elections in 2015, it is likely that the government’s efforts to suppress dissent, including through the use of arbitrary arrest and detention and other violations, will continue unabated and may even increase.

“The Ethiopian government must end the shameful targeting of thousands of Oromos based only on their actual or suspected political opinion.  It must cease its use of detention without charge, torture and ill-treatment, incommunicado detention, enforced disappearance and unlawful killings to muzzle actual or suspected dissent,” said Claire Beston.

Interviewees repeatedly told Amnesty International that there was no point trying to complain or seek justice in cases of enforced disappearance, torture, possible killings or other violations. Some were arrested when they did ask about a relative’s fate or whereabouts.

Amnesty International believes there is an urgent need for intervention by regional and international human rights bodies to conduct independent investigations into these allegations of human rights violations in Oromia.

Former detainees told Amnesty that methods of torture included “beatings, electric shocks, mock execution, burning with heated metal or molten plastic and rape, including gang rape”.

BBC interviewing torture survivor and Dr Awol K on Amnesty report.

The Oromo account for nearly 45% of the country’s 94 million population.

Oromia: Human Rights Speaks

Many Oromo people living in Oromia, East Africa, Marama was forced to leave to save his life. Since he reached the safety of Australia after spending years in a refugee camp, Marama does everything he can to help his people still suffering in Ethiopia. Through community run organisations such the Oromia Support Group and the Oromo Relief Association , Marama tirelessly campaigns to raise awareness about the plight of Oromo people, works to get Oromo people out of refugee camps to countries like Australia and helps them to settle into their new lives once they arrive. His own story is at the core of his motivation, as he understands better than most what it takes to survive.