Category Archives: Events
The Ethiopian Government should be part of the World Community in Fighting Against COVID-19 and Respecting Human Rights of the Citizens
Monday, April 06, 2020
We, Oromo Civic, Professional, and Faith-based organizations in Diaspora write this letter out of grave concern that COVID-19 might cause preventable loss of lives in Oromia and the whole of Ethiopia upon all political prisoners, temporarily displaced persons such as refugee and homeless peoples who are extremely vulnerable because of their unhealthy living conditions. We are also concerned by the damages that could be done by the movement of the military personnel and the continued deployment of the illegal command posts in several Oromia regions during this period of fast-spreading COVID-19 pandemic. At this critical global health emergency, deployment of the military should be to contain the COVID-19, not to harass, kill, displace and plunder the citizens.
COVID-19 is unprecedented pandemic, and it exerts multifaceted threats. We have no cure or vaccination for this highly contagious disease. The only tool we have is prevention and mitigation. Prevention strategies are complex, and they take place at different levels and require coordinated efforts. This necessitates the government and the public to go extra miles. The WHO recommended prevention strategies are social distancing and personal hygiene. Social distancing means being two meters apart from each other, avoiding public meetings, and restricting travels. But the Ethiopian prisons are overcrowded with political prisoners and luck clean water. These conditions put the prisoners and the general public in unnecessary public health risks.
Moreover, the ruling Prosperity Party of Prime Minister Abiy is continuously holding public meetings and forcing people to attend in Oromia Regional State, in packed halls with thousands of people for political orientation. This is neglecting or prudently violating the global health guideline- one of which is social distancing. Such action is deliberately or negligently exposing the people to the deadly virus. This tantamount to genocide.
Ethiopia also has historical practices where the movement of soldiers unwittingly led to the spread of infectious diseases from one place to another and transmitted disease-causing agents. At this time, the Ethiopian army is deployed to several regions and is serving in the command posts.
For over a year, Western and Southern Oromia zones are under illegal command posts or martial law. The soldiers of the command posts are engaged in killings, imprisoning, and harassing civilians. In those regions, farming, businesses, schooling, and other activities are either entirely stopped or significantly disrupted, and the condition has subjected the people to live in poverty and malnutrition.
Poverty and food insecurity also make people vulnerable to infections. Hence, the illegal command post has created unhealthy social conditions and generated unnecessary risks to the transmission of COVID-19. From the zones ruled by the martial law and others, people who feared the atrocities of the Ethiopian security forces are massively fleeing from their homes to major cities. Many of them are now in cities and live in overcrowded housing or homeless. In the last twenty years in Finfinne/Addis Ababa area, the Oromo people have been evicted massively from their homes with little or no compensation, and many of them are now homeless.
Resulted from the Ethiopian government’s divide and rule policies, over two million Oromos have been evicted from their homes. Most of them live in overcrowded housing, and others are homeless. Homelessness and overcrowded housing are major risk factors for COVID-19. The Ethiopian public health action plans to contain the COVID-19 needs to include housing the homeless people and respecting human rights principles.
The widespread human rights violations are causing people to flee from their homes and displacing them locally and making them international refugees. The movement of the armed forces and the displacement of civilian populations are creating fertile grounds for the transmission of COVID-19 and putting the local and global communities at risk.
Breaking the chain of transmission of infections is possible only if we effectively communicate the risk of transmissions and preventive strategies. The significance of effective communication during emergency and epidemics are well known, and the WHO gives specific guidelines. During an emergency, the information should be delivered by the most trusted institution. Mixing politics and public health is counterproductive. However, in Ethiopia, politicians are mixing their party’s political agendas with health information. Some of the Ethiopian government political figures on their Facebook pages describe their political opponents as “the Coronavirus”. The political figures who openly use detestable languages also deliberately misinforms the public. Mixing politics and health education compounded with inaccurate messaging repeal those who do not adhere to party politics and make health education ineffective. At this critical juncture mixing politics and health education and giving misinformation is counterproductive. Health education should have primacy over political indoctrination.
COVID-19 does not discriminate between the supporters of different political parties, languages, religions, and ethnic-national-race groups. In such understanding, the United Nations (UN) Secretary-General António Guterres called for an immediate ceasefire among all parties involved in armed conflict. We know that human rights violations, war, and armed conflict have exposed our people to famine and HIV/AIDS. We urge the Ethiopian government to settle the political differences with the Oromo Liberation Army (OLA) peacefully and focus on the common enemy-the the disease-causing agent. Evidence-based public health policy directions in prevention and mitigating COVID-19 suggest the need for coordinated and multilateral efforts. Highly credible sources suggest that holding back this deadly virus is on the hand of the public, and everyone need to play their parts. This necessitates the need to build the social, economic, political, and cultural capacities of a group of people and individuals. Developing these capacities requires advancing individuals and group rights and communities’ capacity to prevent and mitigate the problem.
We, therefore, urge the Ethiopian government to respect human rights principles, release political prisoners, remove the command posts and protect vulnerable population groups such refugees, those internally displaced, and homeless individuals from the spread of COVID-19. We call upon the Ethiopian government to immediately take the following critical public health measures:
- Release all political prisoners.
- Make prison cells are consistent with the WHO recommended social distancing principles.
- Lift the martial law in the Oromia Regional State because it hinders people from leading a healthy life and playing their role to contain and mitigate the impacts of COVID-19.
- Stop all forms of human rights violations because it kills the aspiration of people to understand and solve problems.
- Stop displacing people locally or making them international refugees,
- Stop armed conflict and settle political differences with the OLA by a peaceful means.
- Overcrowded housing and homelessness are the manifestations of the ill-planned policy, and the government needs to strive to correct those wrongs.
- Stop holding public political meetings, because most of them do not fulfill the principle of social spacing
- Stop harassing and threatening independent mass media, including Oromia Media Network and Oromia News Network and let information to freely flow in Oromia.
Oromia Global Forum: A consortium of Oromo Civic, Professional and Faith-Based Organizations
Bilal Oromo Dawa Center
Canaan Oromo Evangelical Church
Charismatic International Fellowship Church
Global Gumii Oromia
Global Oromo Advocacy Group
Global Waaqeffannaa Council
Horn of Africa Genocide Watch
Human Rights League of the Horn of Africa
International Oromo Women’s Organization
International Qeerroo Support Group
Mana Kiristaanaa Fayyisaa Addunyaa
Oromo Christ Evangelical Lutheran Church
Oromo Communities’ Association of North America
Oromo Evangelical Lutheran Church of Washington DC Metropolitan Area
Oromo Evangelical Lutheran Mission Society
Oromo Human Rights and Relief Organization
Oromo Legacy, Leadership and Advocacy Association
Oromo Lutheran Church of Baltimore
Oromo Parliamentarians Council
Oromo Studies Association
Oromia Support Group
Tawfiq Islamic Center
Union of Oromo Communities in Canada
United Oromo Evangelical Church
Washington DC Metropolitan Oromo SDA Church
Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus,
Director of World Health Organization (WHO)
Avenue Appia 20 1211, Geneva
World Health Organization – Regional Office for Africa
Cité du Djoué, P.O.Box 06 Brazzaville Republic of Congo
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The US Department of State (USA)
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Foreign Affairs (Sweden)
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Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs (France)
Federal Foreign Office (Germany)
HUMAN RIGHTS GROUPS
UN Human Rights Council
Africa Union (AU)
African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights Council of Europe,
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Human Rights Watch
MEDIA AND NEWS GROUPS
Oromia News Network
Oromia Media Network
Hegeree News Network
Radio Sagalee Walabummaa Oromiyaa
VOA Afaan Oromoo Program
BBC Afaan Oromo Program
The Washington Post
New York Times
(Amnesty International, 7 April 2020, The Ethiopian authorities must immediately release two journalists from the Oromia News Network and three Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) officials who remain in custody a week after charges against them were dropped and the court ordered their release on 31 March.
The authorities must desist from this intimidation, harassment and arbitrary detention and immediately and unconditionally release these five individuals.
Deprose Muchena, Amnesty International’s Director for East and Southern Africa
“The Ethiopian authorities continue to detain five people long after the court ordered their release. The authorities must desist from this intimidation, harassment and arbitrary detention and immediately and unconditionally release these five individuals,” said Deprose Muchena, Amnesty International’s Director for East and Southern Africa.
The five were charged with taking a photo at the Burayu police station, and for traffic offenses relating to an incident where a vehicle rammed into the back of the police car the arresting officers were using. The prosecutor later dropped the charges, stating none of the alleged acts were crimes under the country’s criminal law.
The police however continue to detain the individuals claiming there were irregularities with the names on their identification documents. However, they have not presented the five in court with any new charges.
The detained are Batir Filae, OLF Central Committee member; Gadaa Gabisa, OLF political officer; and Bilisuma Ararsa, OLF member. With them are Desu Dula, the Vice Director of the Oromia News Network (ONN) and Wako Nole, a journalist with the network.
For more information on the mounting harassment of OLF members and supporters, see links below.
(A4O, Opinion, 7 April 2020) Professor Asfaw Bayana’s article titled “I must abandon a false hope now” prompted me to contemplate the meaning of hope and further led me to conclude that our greatest hope comes not from the OPDO but from the knowledge that we shall win our freedom soon or later.
For centuries, believers had foretold that a savior who would redeem them from their sins and take them to a place called Heaven will come someday. Such a story represents the hope that people would rise from death and live forever.
Likewise, we pay tribute to all Oromian martyrs, to the suffered, to the jailed, to the tortured, to the exiled, and to those Qeerroos/Qarrees who are still falling at the battlefields being shot by Abiy Ahmed’s killing squads being guided by the hope that the vision of those genius Oromians who articulated the mission of the OLF will become true someday. This means we hope that someday, we are going to build free Oromia, a free state that will accommodate all the needs of its citizens.
To get there, we just have to believe that there are tremendous sources of hope beyond our enemies’ abilities, strength, and capacity.
I am certain that freedom is possible with surety hope for better governance, yea, a liberated country free enough even for our killers. But we must press forward with a steadfastness in our ability to free ourselves, having confidence in ourselves and enduring to the end.
The OPDO is a simple obstacle and removing an obstacle is part of the process of achieving any task. The reason that made the OPDO an obstacle to our freedom can be readily understood by looking at the situation that produced her in the first place. There was a larger global purpose behind the birth of the OPDO back in the 1990s and the same thing is true about the installation of Abiy Ahmed in power in 2018.
That means False Hope is trusting that the OPDO is going to respect the false promises she made just 2 years ago. What we need to know is that, if we act now, the desired freedom will be fulfilled in the future.
The OPDO has been fighting against the Oromians believing that our hopes and aspirations would bring them hopelessness. They understood that If the Oromo people are free, their Nafxanya parents will lose control over the power and economic advantages that they currently enjoy.
Contrary to their selfish reason however, we can still believe in ourselves, fully persuaded that our sheer struggle would help us reach our destination. To do so, we must constantly ask ourselves;
• What was the purpose for which the OLF was formed?
• What was the OLF goal?
• Why did all those Oromians were killed, jailed, exiled, tortured?
• Why do we expect fairness from the enemy spy who had been killing us for the past 27 years?
• What is the message we are sending to the youth by expecting democracy from the enemy?
• What is our responsibility in helping the Oromo youth understand the mission of the OLF?
As an Oromo intellectual, each of us can teach the Oromo youth that success requires the removal of an obstacle and the OPDO is an obstacle.
Hope is an Anchor of the Soul,
Liberation is our Goal!