Monthly Archives: November 2015

Giving Thanks in Many Voices: Oromo Irreechaa


“Terrorist” for being a ‘bachelor’!

(A4O)Aduňa Kesso is a Qeerroo. According to Aduňa, Qeerroo in Afan Oromo means ‘a young; bachelor who  who does not have a child yet’.

“You can’t help it I’m a Qeerroo”, he jokes comparing the fact that I’m 10 years older than him. He was a 2nd year Electrical Engineering student at Adama University when he was arrested in May 2014.

Aduňa was arrested following students’ protest against the introduction of the controversial Addis Ababa’s new master plan. As the new master plan intends to integrate the sprawling capital, Addis Ababa with Oromia, the adjacent Regional State, the Ethiopian government calls it Addis Ababa-Oromia integrated Master Plan. But students particularly from Oromia consider the new master plan as Ethiopia’s central government illegal expansion into Oromia Regional State at the expense of local farmers.

By then, I along with six of my colleagues from Zone9 and the three journalists were also in jail. During the heyday of university students protest. We were detained in Maekelawi, the country’s notorious pre-trial detention center and I have no idea of what was going on in the country. Maekelawi is not only a detention center but it also is a seclusion center. Twenty or so days into my 544 days of incarceration, we were joined by students from Oromia who were arrested due to their protest of the new master plan.
In Maekelawi our cells were located in its infamous part,inmates call those cells ‘Siberia’ because of their unbearable cold. The new inmates were added to our tiny cells. Total of 15 students were arrested (11 of them were released from Maekelawi in political intervention from the Oromia state; 6 students including two other students who were later detained and were charged of detonating a bomb at Haromaya University.Among them was Aduňa who became one of my inmates.

40 Percent of Eritrean Migrants in Europe are Ethiopians: Austrian Ambassador

We believe that among the thousands of Eritrean migrants in Europe, 30 - 40 percent are Ethiopians

NOTHING BUT THE TRUTH. “We believe that among the thousands of Eritrean migrants in Europe, 30 – 40 percent are Ethiopians,” Austrian Ambassador to Ethiopia, Andreas Melan

Austrian ambassador in Ethiopia, Andreas Melan, in an interview with APA explained that as thousands of Ethiopians continue to illegally migrate to Saudi Arabia and South Africa, those who fled to Europe usually claim they are from Eritrea as that have better chance of recognition for asylum.

The “mass exodus” of Ethiopians that no one speaks about attracts about 100,000 Ethiopians annually Eastwards, said Ambassador Melan. The official figures of course not known as Ethiopians mostly migrate illegally as legal migration has been prohibited by the government.

“As Ethiopians, the only chance to get asylum in Europe is for opposition politician or a homosexual or any one who can demonstrate persecution,” said Ambassador Melan. “Critical journalists also often flee the country.”

Ambassador Melan went on to say that, the Eritrean Community in Austria is very small while traditionally the number of asylum applications from Eritrea in Switzerland are relatively high.

However, “We believe that among the thousands of Eritreanmigrants in Europe, 30 to 40 percent are Ethiopians,” said the ambassador.

The 2013 and 2014 European migration statistics Eurostat also confirms Ambassador Melan’s assertion.  Among the top countries of origin for asylum seekers, Ethiopia is not listed even among the top 20 origins as the thousands of its illegal migrants already claimed they are from Eritrea. For such simple fact and error, Eritrea has been singled out as the second most refugee producing country next to Syria.

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MUST READ : Eritrean Identity “Most Sought After” Among African Refugees
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But Ethiopia is also the destination country of many people from the region. At present, the East African country ishome to a population of over 94 million people on top of around 750,000 refugees from Sudan, Eritrea and Somalia.

However, Ethiopia itself is one of the poorest countries in the world – 30 percent of the population live on less than one dollar a day – and many of its citizens often have no prospects in their homeland, and for that many of them leave their homes.

In 2013, only 20 Ethiopians and 59 Eritreans have applied for asylum in Austria. In 2014, Ethiopia was counted not even among the 15 most countries of origin as they all start registering as Eritreans up on arrival.

In addition to Europe and the Middle East, the route to South Africa is so popular among Ethiopian immigrants. This, however, is the least explored, so Maria Temesvari of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) in Addis Ababa said it is the least explored route by Ethiopians so far.

No matter in which direction, the Ethiopian government wants its citizens to migrate legaly and for that it introduced a front against traffickers to curb illegal migration. In July, legislation was passed that will penalizes.

“This goes back to the death penalty,” said Temesvari.

* The above story was first published by APA under the title “Refugees – Legal emigration is taboo for Ethiopians


Kenya put to task over missing Oromo leader Dabassa Guyo Saffaro

A picture of a UNHCR staff. The African Commission on Human and People’s Rights is seeking information from the Kenyan government on the disappearance of Oromo leader Dabassa Guyo Saffaro, who was under UNHCR protection. AFP FILE PHOTO | DENYSE UWERA

In Summary

  • His family has been asking the UN refugee agency to help find him.
  • Kenya has not ratified the Kampala Convention on Internally Displaced Persons, which provides displaced people with legal protection.


4415Africa’s top human rights body on Monday put Kenya to task over the disappearance of Oromo community leader Dabassa Guyo Saffaro.

The African Commission on Human and People’s Rights (ACHPR) also questioned what the government had done over the assassination of lawyer Peter Wanyama Wanyonyi.

Mr Saffaro, according to ACHPR Commissioner Maya Sahli Fadel, has been missing since September 27, with his family claiming the government may know where he is.

She said the Ethiopian refugee, who moved to Kenya in the early 1970s to flee political persecution, lived in Mlolongo, Machakos County, with some members of his family.

“It is alleged that the government had on several occasions accused him of being a leader of an Oromo community that practiced terror,” she said.

Mr Saffaro lived under the protection of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and was in the process of renewing his expired Kenyan identity card and travel documents when he disappeared. His family has been asking the UN refugee agency to help find him.

Ms Fadel asked the Kenyan delegation attending the 57th session of the ACHPR in Banjul, Gambia, to also explain the assassination of Mr Wanyonyi and what the government had done so far to bring his killers to book.


Mr Wanyonyi was shot dead on September 17, 2013 as he returned home from a meeting in Bungoma Town.

The gunmen escaped without taking anything from him and the police stated that his murder could have been premeditated.

Ms Fadel questioned the disappearance and assassination of many other people and asked what the government had done to secure the rights of refugees and asylum seekers.

She also asked why Kenya had not ratified the Kampala Convention on Internally Displaced Persons which provides displaced people with legal protection.

Another commissioner, Zainabo Kayitesi, questioned why the government had not arrested anyone in connection with the assassination of Muslim clerics in Mombasa, adding that there had been too many unresolved murders in the country.

The commissioners demanded answers from the Kenyan delegation, a day after Senior Deputy Solicitor-General Maryann Njau Kimani presented to the forum a 17-page report on the country’s human rights record.

The government representatives at the forum are on Tuesday expected to respond to the questions directed to them by the commissioners, who seemed to dwell mainly on extrajudicial killings, access to information, freedom of the press, the rights of prisoners and the rights of people living with disabilities.