Category Archives: News

Ethiopia & the Oromo Liberation Front Reach Agreement

(A4O, 7 August 2018) Ethiopia & the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) have signed a Reconciliation Agreement today in Asmara.

According to Oromo Liberation Voice, the agreement reached between President of the Oromia Regional state, Lemma Mergerssa & OLF Chairman, Dawd Ibsa.

The agreement reached provides for termination of hostilities in the country.

In addition to that it provides for the OLF to conduct its political activities in Ethiopia through peaceful means.

The two sides also agreed to establish a Joint Committee to implement the agreement.

The meeting was also attended by Foreign Minister Workneh Gebeyehu.

The Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) was established in 1973 by Oromo nationalists to lead the national liberation struggle of the Oromo people against the Abyssinian colonial rule.

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A pregnant woman was shot and killed in Dambi Dollo

(A4O, July 24, 2018) A pregnant woman was shot and killed by OPDO police forces in Dambi Dolo, south west Oromia.

According to sources, a pregnant mother, Birhane Mamo, who was heading to Dembi Dollo hospital for delivery was killed by armed policemen Yesterday.

Berhane Mamo was shot and killed by OPDO police forces in Dambi Dolo, south west Oromia.

A pregnant mother in labor and four members of her family including her husband were severely injured and hospitalized.

The pregnant mother was getting transported to hospital for delivery, bullets showered on her from Oromiya Special Force without any warning. She died on the scene. Three others in the car were seriously wounded.

The Oromia regional government hasn’t issued any official statement on this killing.

However, our sources indicated that three members of security forces who were on patrol during the killing of Berhane Mamo in Dembi Dollo, were arrested this afternoon: security forces from the #Oromia regional state, the Federal police &, the national defense force are paroling the area.

Dambi Dollo communication officer has also published the information it gathered from eye witnesses. Accordingly, the women was  killed by Oromia Special Force while getting transported to hospital for delivery.

Dembi Dollo is a capital city of Qellem Wollega Zone, mostly known for its gold and busy cash-crop business including coffee Arabica. It was relatively peaceful and calm before the government sent heavily armed soldiers and special police forces last month in a move to curb the recent progress of Oromo Liberation Army in the area.

Nevertheless, Oromo Liberation Front has recently announced that it has temporarily ceased fire in order to sit down for peace deal with the government. It is unclear why the government still wanted to settle armed soldiers in a populated civilians city.

Ethiopian journalists, political activists and human rights activists arrested, denied due process

(A4O, April 1, 2018)– Advocacy for Oromia is gravely concerned that dozens of journalists, human rights activists and prominent opposition figures have been arrested and are being held in inhuman condition at Police Station.

On 25 March 2018, Ethiopian security forces arrested journalists Eskinder Nega and Temesgen Desalegn, Zone9 bloggers Mahlet Fantahun, Befekadu Hailu, blogger Zelalem Workaggnhu and political activists Andualem Arage, Addisu Getinet, Yidnekachewu Addis, Sintayehu Chekol, Tefera Tesfaye and Woynshet Molla.

According to reports, the arrests were made while the defenders were attending a private meeting at the home of journalist Temesgen Desalegn in Addis Ababa. The private gathering was held in recognition of the recent release of thousands of political prisoners amidst ongoing and widespread protests against political marginalisation and land grabbing in the Oromia and Amhara regions which began in late 2015. The eleven who have previously been jailed for their work as journalists or human rights activists are currently being held at Gotera-Pepsi Police Station in Addis Ababa.

Among those arrested Temesghen was taken from the prison to Zewditu hospital “due to severe back pain he developed during his jail time in recent past.”

Nega, who is a prominent political journalist, had previously spent nearly seven years behind bars on terrorism charges. He was released from prison several weeks ago, on February 14, only to be re-arrested this week.

The arrests follow the declaration of a national State of Emergency on 16 February for a period of six months. The State of Emergency imposes a blanket ban on all protests, the dissemination of any publication deemed to “incite and sow discord” including those who criticise the State of Emergency and allows for warrantless arrest.

Advocacy for Oromia asks for emails and letters urging Ethiopian authorities to secure Eskinder Nega, Temesgen Desalegn, Mahlet Fantahun, Befekadu Hailu, Zelalem Workaggnhu, Andualem Arage, Addisu Getinet, Yidnekachewu Addis, Sintayehu Chekol, Tefera Tesfaye and Woynshet Molla immediate, unconditional release and, pending their release, ensure that their cases proceed in a manner consistent with Ethiopia’s obligations under international law, in particular internationally recognized standards of due process, fair trial, and free expression; to ensure their well-being while in custody, including access to legal counsel and family and to bring an end to the suffering.

For PDF format:  Ethiopian journalists, political activists and human rights activists arrested, denied due process

Advocacy for Oromia

The following can be the sample of your letter: 

Subject: Release journalists, human rights activists and prominent opposition figures

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
P.O. Box 393
Addis Ababa
Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia

cc: Federal Attorney General of Ethiopia, President of Oromia Regional State, Ethiopian Ambassador to the United States, United States Ambassador to Ethiopia, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, and Advocacy for Oromia

Your Excellency:

I write to to express grave concern that dozens of journalists, human rights activists and prominent opposition figures have been arrested and are being held in inhuman condition at Police Station.

On 25 March 2018, Ethiopian security forces arrested journalists Eskinder Nega and Temesgen Desalegn, Zone9 bloggers Mahlet Fantahun, Befekadu Hailu, blogger Zelalem Workaggnhu and political activists Andualem Arage, Addisu Getinet, Yidnekachewu Addis, Sintayehu Chekol, Tefera Tesfaye and Woynshet Molla. The eleven who have previously been jailed for their work as journalists or human rights activists are currently being held at Gotera-Pepsi Police Station in Addis Ababa.

I further understand from Advocacy for Oromia that, on March 25, 2018, 11 journalists, human rights activists and prominent opposition figures were arrested while attending a private meeting at the home of journalist Temesgen Desalegn in Addis Ababa. The private gathering was held in recognition of the recent release of thousands of political prisoners amidst ongoing and widespread protests against political marginalisation and land grabbing in the Oromia and Amhara regions which began in late 2015.

I welcome any additional information that may explain these events or clarify my understandings. Absent this, the facts as described suggest that dozens of journalists, human rights activists and prominent opposition figures were arrested as a result of nonviolent expressive activity, conduct that is expressly protected under international human rights instruments including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Ethiopia is party. This raises not only serious concerns for Eskinder Nega, Temesgen Desalegn, Mahlet Fantahun, Befekadu Hailu, Zelalem Workaggnhu, Andualem Arage, Addisu Getinet, Yidnekachewu Addis, Sintayehu Chekol, Tefera Tesfaye and Woynshet Molla’s well-being, but for the ability of journalists, human rights activists and prominent opposition figures generally in Ethiopia to exercise their right to free expression.

I therefore respectfully urge you to investigate the situation and to secure Eskinder Nega, Temesgen Desalegn, Mahlet Fantahun, Befekadu Hailu, Zelalem Workaggnhu, Andualem Arage, Addisu Getinet, Yidnekachewu Addis, Sintayehu Chekol, Tefera Tesfaye and Woynshet Molla’s immediate, unconditional release and, pending their release, ensure that their cases proceed in a manner consistent with Ethiopia’s obligations under international law, in particular internationally recognized standards of due process, fair trial, and free expression; and to ensure their well-being while in custody, including access to legal counsel and family.

I appreciate your attention to this important matter and look forward to your reply.

Sincerely,

(Here-sign)

(Here -Your Name)

cc: The Honorable Getachew Ambaye

Attorney General, Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia
Email:

cc: The Honorable Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein

United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights
Email:

cc: Advocacy for Oromia

Email:info@advocacy4oromia.org

The Honorable Abiy Ahmed

Prime Minister of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia
Email:

cc: Ambassador Kassa Tekleberhan Gebrehiwot

Ambassador of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia to the United States of America
Email:

cc: The Honorable Lemma Megersa

President of Oromia Regional State
Email:

cc: The Honorable Michael Raynor

United States Ambassador to the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia
Email:

‘Freedom!’: the mysterious movement that brought Ethiopia to a standstill

Qeerroo – young Oromo activists – drove the mass strike that helped topple the prime minister of one of Africa’s most autocratic governments

Supporters of Bekele Gerba, secretary general of the Oromo Federalist Congress, celebrate his release from prison, in Adama, Ethiopia on 14 February 2018.
 Supporters of Bekele Gerba, secretary general of the Oromo Federalist Congress, celebrate his release from prison, in Adama, February 2018. Photograph: Tiksa Negeri/Reuters

Today, Desalegn is a banker. But once he was a Qeerroo: a young, energetic and unmarried man from Ethiopia’s largest ethnic group, the Oromo, bound by what he calls a “responsibility to defend the people”.

Twelve years ago he helped organise mass protests against an election result he and many others believed the ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) had rigged. This landed him in prison, along with thousands of others, on terrorism charges.

Since then he has married and, like many of his generation in Ethiopia, mostly avoided politics. That was until 12 February, when he joined almost everyone in the town of Adama, and in many others cities across the region of Oromia, in a strike calling for the release of opposition leaders and an end to authoritarianism.

The boycott, which lasted three days and brought much of central Ethiopia to a standstill, culminated on 13 February with the release of Bekele Gerba, a prominent Oromo politician who lives in Adama, and, within 48 hours, the sudden resignation of Ethiopia’s beleaguered prime minister, Hailemariam Desalegn. The shaken federal government then declared a nationwide state-of-emergency on 15 February, the second in as many years.

“It was a total shutdown,” says Desalegn, of the strike in Adama. “Almost everybody took part – including government offices. You wouldn’t have even been able to find a shoeshine boy here.”

For him and many other residents of Adama, about 90km south-east of the capital, Addis Ababa, there is only one explanation for how a normally quiescent town finally joined the uprising that has billowed across much of Oromia and other parts of Ethiopia since late 2014: the Qeerroo.

Police fire tear gas to disperse protesters during the Oromo festival of Irreecha, in Bishoftu, Ethiopia, in October, 2016
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 Police fire teargas to disperse protesters during the Oromo festival of Irreecha, in Bishoftu, October 2016. Photograph: Tiksa Negeri/Reuters

Who the Qeerroo are, and how they have helped bring one of Africa’s strongest and most autocratic governments to its knees, is only dimly understood.

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In traditional Oromo culture the term denotes a young bachelor. But today it has broader connotations, symbolising both the Oromo movement – a struggle for more political freedom and for greater ethnic representation in federal structures – and an entire generation of newly assertive Ethiopian youth.

“They are the voice of the people,” explains Debela, a 32-year-old taxi driver in Adama who says he is too old to be one but that he supports their cause. “They are the vanguard of the Oromo revolution.”

The term’s resurgence also reflects the nature of Oromo identity today, which has grown much stronger since Ethiopia’s distinct model of ethnically based federalism was established by the EPRDF in 1994.

“In the past even to be seen as Oromo was a crime,” says Desalegn, of the ethnic assimilation policies pursued by the two preceding Ethiopian regimes, imperial and communist. “But now people are proud to be Oromo … So the Qeerroos are emboldened.”

As the Oromo movement has grown in confidence in recent years, so the role of the Qeerroo in orchestrating unrest has increasingly drawn the attention of officials.

At the start of the year police announced plans to investigate and crack down on the Qeerroo, arguing that it was a clandestine group bent on destabilising the country and seizing control of local government offices. Party sympathisers accused members of being terrorists.

Bekele Gerba waves to his supporters after his release from prison in Adama, Ethiopia on 13 February 2018.
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 Bekele Gerba waves to his supporters after his release from prison in Adama, on 13 February. Photograph: Tiksa Negeri/Reuters

Though many dispute this characterisation, few doubt the underground strength of the Qeerroo today.

Since the previous state of emergency was lifted last August, Qeerroo networks have been behind multiple strikes and protests in different parts of Oromia, despite obstacles like the total shutdown of mobile internet in all areas beyond the capital since the end of last year.

Bekele Gerba, the opposition leader, credits the Qeerroo with securing his release from prison, and for sending hundreds of well-wishers to his home in Adama in the aftermath. But like many older activists, he confesses to limited knowledge of how they organise themselves.

“I only became aware of them relatively recently,” he says. “We don’t know who the leadership is and we don’t know if they have a central command.”

But in a recent interview with the Guardian, two local leaders in Adama, Haile and Abiy (not their real names), shed light on their methods.

According to the two men, who are both in their late 20s, each district of the city has one Qeerroo leader, with at least 20 subordinates, all of whom are responsible for disseminating messages and information about upcoming strikes.

They say their networks have become better organised in recent months, explaining that there is now a hierarchical command chain and even a single leader for the whole of Oromia. “This gives us discipline and allows us to speak with one voice,” says Abiy.

Their job has become more difficult in the absence of the internet.

“With social media you can disseminate the message in seconds,” says Abiy. “Now it can take two weeks, going from door to door.” Instead of using WhatsApp and Facebook, they now distribute paper flyers, especially on university campuses.

The role of Oromo activists among the diaspora, especially those in the US, also remains crucial, despite the shutdown.

Zecharias Zelalem, an Ethiopian journalist based in Canada, argues that it is thanks to prominent social media activists that the Qeerroo have acquired the political heft that youth movements in other parts of the country still lack. He highlights in particular the work of Jawar Mohammed, the controversial founder of the Minnesota-based Oromia Media Network (which is banned in Ethiopia), in amplifying the voice of the Qeerroo even when internet is down.

“[Jawar] gives us political analyses and advice,” Haile explains. “He can get access to information even from inside the government, which he shares with the Qeerroos. We evaluate it and then decide whether to act on it.”

He and Abiy both dismiss the assumption, widespread in Ethiopia, that Jawar remote-controls the protests. “The Qeerroos are like a football team,” counters Haile. “Jawar may be the goalkeeper – helping and advising – but we are the strikers.”

Supporters of Bekele Gerba, secretary general of the Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC), chant slogans to celebrate Gerba’s release from prison
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 Supporters of Bekele Gerba chant slogans to celebrate Gerba’s release from prison. Photograph: Tiksa Negeri/Reuters

The reimposition of the state-of-emergency has angered many Qeerroos in Adama and elsewhere in Oromia, where the move was widely seen as heavy-handed bid to reverse the protesters’ momentum.

Some analysts fear further repression will push members of a still mostly peaceful political movement towards violence and extremism.

Jibril Ummar, a local businessman and activist, says that he and others tried to ensure the protests in Adama were peaceful, calming down overexcited young men who wanted to damage property and attack non-Oromos.

“It worries me,” he admits. “There’s a lack of maturity. When you are emotional you put the struggle in jeopardy.”

Gerba says he worries about violence, too, including of the ethnic kind. “We know for sure that Tigrayans are targeted most, across the country. This concerns me very much and it is something that has to be worked on.”

In the coming days the EPRDF will decide on a new prime minister, and many hope it will be someone from the Oromo People’s Democratic Organisation (OPDO), the Oromo wing of the ruling coalition.

This might placate some of the Qeerroo, at least in the short term. But it is unlikely to be enough on its own to dampen the anger.

“When we are married we will retire from the Qeerroo,” says Haile. “But we will never do that until we get our freedom.”

===========================

Source: https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2018/mar/13/freedom-oromo-activists-qeerroo-ethiopia-standstill

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Appeal Letter to the International Community

by Oromo Civic Organizations

(Advocacy for Oromia, March 05, 2018) We, members of the Oromo civic and professional organizations, write this urgent letter to appeal to international organizations and governments to save helpless, peaceful citizens trapped under a repressive regime in Ethiopia which has decided to rule through state terrorism.

The Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) led Ethiopian government, representing a minority ethnic group, which has ruled Ethiopia with an iron fist since the early 1990’s, has unleashed what can be described as state terrorism in the last few years on defenseless people for peacefully demanding their basic democratic rights. The most populous state in the country, Oromia, has particularly faced the brunt of the regime’s ire, as widely documented by reputable human rights and international media organizations. Thousands have been killed, and tens of thousands have been arrested, tortured, displaced and exiled. On October 2, 2016 alone, government security forces fired on millions of people who gathered for the annual Irreecha festival, near the city of Bishoftu, killing hundreds and maiming many more. Following this massacre, the government imposed a ten-month state of emergency, during which over 30,000 people were arrested and kept in concentration camps without a due process of law. In what is arguably the worst humanitarian disaster to have befallen the Oromo people yet, close to one million Oromo have been displaced from their home in the eastern and southeastern regions, because of TPLF’s vicious proxy war on the Oromo via the so-called Liyu-Police of the Somali region of Ethiopia. Most of the internally displaced are still living in temporary shelters, facing an uncertain outcome and a bleak future.

Faced with a growing dissent, the TPLF regime has re-imposed a state of emergency on February 16, 2018, curtailing fundamental human rights and giving its army a wide latitude to take extrajudicial actions with impunity. This new law is totally uncalled for, as the government is fully in control and has no justification to use an extraordinary measure to maintain peace and order. Many foreign governments and independent observers believe that declaring a state of emergency at this time is unnecessary and counter-productive. The United States Embassy in Ethiopia “strongly disagrees with Ethiopian government’s decision to impose a state of emergency that includes restrictions on fundamental rights such as assembly and expression.” Opposition political parties, civic and religious organizations have also condemned the declaration of the state of emergency. The decree does not even meet the conditions stipulated in TPLF’s own constitution which requires an extraordinary situation to declare a state of emergency. It is, therefore, illegal.
Yet even before the state of emergency was approved, the regime has intensified its implementation, severely restricting the freedom of movement and expression. On February 23, for example, government forces prevented leaders of the Oromo Federalists Congress (OFC), Dr. Merera Gudina and Bekele Gerba, from visiting their relatives and meeting supporters in Wallaga, western Oromia.
After their release from prison just last month, they were forced to stay in an open field, 20 miles away from the city of Nekemete, because federal forces, who have been harassing and terrorizing residents, blocked the road and ordered them to go back to Addis Ababa (Finfinnee) On February 26, soldiers fired live ammunition and killed one person, Abebe Makonnen, and wounded at least 19 people. Another person was killed and 5 others were wounded in the town of Ukkee, north of Nekemte, on February 27 and 28, 2018. Further west, in Dembi Dolo, government forces have prevented the distribution of leaflet for a religious gathering and killed one person and wounded several others. On February 27, the Command Post, a military unit set up to administer the state of emergency, and led by Siraj Fergessa, Defense Minister, authorized the federal defense forces to take any action against protesters.

The Command post’s directive gives an extraordinary power to the armed forces and allows them to unleash unmitigated violence against civilians. The state of emergency clearly violates the country’s constitution and other international human rights treaty obligations that Ethiopia has agreed to observe.
The behavior of the Ethiopian regime is outrageous on many levels. While Ethiopia hosts many international organizations including: the headquarters of the African Union (AU), the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), and numerous diplomatic missions; the EPRDF regime flagrantly violates
human rights with impunity. Helpless and defenseless people wonder who would come to their rescue when their government manipulates the laws and kills them, evicts them from their lands, and displaces them routinely.

The outrage of the people has been simmering for years and their patience has reached its limits. This volatile situation can get out of control at any moment. Unfortunately, if this happens, many more lives could be lost; property could be destroyed, the Horn of Africa region could face an imaginable displacements and mass migrations. In short, the consequences could be catastrophic not only for the Oromo and the peoples of Ethiopia, but also for the northeast African region and the global community.

Grieving of the losses we have suffered so far, due to the brutal acts of TPLF/EPRDF regime, and fearful of the looming human sufferings, we strongly appeal to the international community and organizations to act fast and save innocent lives, prevent violence and displacements. We particularly appeal to:

1. The United Nations, the African Union, the Arab League, and the European Union to stop the Ethiopian government from continuing very dangerous political path;

2. The United Nations Security Council to authorize the investigation of the violations of human rights and international human rights treaty obligations, the crimes committed by the Ethiopian regime;

3. The United Nations Human Rights Commission to investigate previous the human rights violations and other committed crimes under current state of emergency law in Ethiopia;

4. The World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) not to provide financial assistance to Ethiopia, except for humanitarian reasons, to force the government end its repressive behavior;

5. The governments of the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Egypt, Germany, Italy, Norway, Sweden, South Africa and other nations to put all necessary diplomatic pressure, and financial and trade restrictions to end the state of emergence, respect the rights of citizens and open the political space for democracy and freedom;

6. All peace-loving global communities to put necessary pressure on their respective governments to end assistance to the Ethiopian government and support the Oromo and other peoples in Ethiopia at this critical moment.

Ultimately, the TPLF/EPRDF leaders and their partners will be fully, legally and historically, accountable for the criminal acts they are committing under the cover of the state of emergency.
Last but not least, if our urgent warnings are ignored and the ominous tragedies we fear take place, history will harshly judge the inaction of the international community, appropriately.

Sincerely,
Oromo Civic and Professional Organizations

• Global Gumii Oromia (GGO)
• Oromo Communities Association of North America (OCA-NA)
• Macha-Tulama Association (MTA)
• Oromo Studies Association (OSA)
• Oromia Support Group (OSG)
• International Oromo Lawyers Association (IOLA)
• International Oromo Women’s Organization (IOWO)
• International Qeerroo Support Group (IQSG)
• Human Rights League for the Horn Of Africa (HRLHA)
CC:
Organizations: UN, AU, EU, AL, WB, IMF
Governments: US, UK, Canada, Australia, China, Egypt, Germany, Norway, Italy, Russia, Sweden, South Africa, [Others]

Ethiopia political uncertainty and Oromo persecution disturbing – Australian MP

Photo File: Irreechaa 2016 @ Wilson Botanical Gardens

An Australian legislator has warned that Ethiopia’s current political situation could have wider implications for the Horn of Africa region, for Africa and to an extent the world.

According to Anthony Byrne, a Federal Member for Holt in Victoria, Ethiopia was undergoing a period of political transition that has an uncertain end.

In a ten-minute address delivered in the House of Representatives in the Australian Parliament, Byrne dispelled the idea that Africa was far from Australia and its business should be left to it to handle.

There is a fairly substantial transition that is occuring at the present period of time. We are not exactly sure where that will lead to, but that does have an impact on Africa, it does have an impact on the security of the country.

“Some, (deputy speaker), will say what happens in Africa does not affect our country, that is just not true, I mean, Africa is a growing – series of countries that will have an increasing say in world affairs.

“And so what does happen in Ethiopia regardless of how far away people think it is does have an impact and ultimately will have an impact on this country and what happens to the Ethiopian government.

“There is a fairly substantial transition that is occuring at the present period of time. We are not exactly sure where that will lead to, but that does have an impact on Africa, it does have an impact on the security of the country,” he said.

He continued that Ethiopian politics had an impact on the diaspora communities in Australia stressing that it could have, “depending on what the outcome is, quite a destabilizing impact on those countries within Africa.”

His February 26, 2018 address to the parliament was pinned on what he said were ‘ongoing persecution of the Oromo peoples in Ethiopia.’ He called on the Ethiopian regime to halt persecutions of the Oromos whiles pledging to represent their interests as best as possible.

“I’d urge the Ethiopian government and will continue to rise on behalf of the Oromo community in my constituency and elsewhere in Victoria in this country to cease the ongoing persecution of the Oromo peoples in Ethiopia.

“And I will continue to work with Oromo leaders in Victoria and overseas to continue to highlight their concerns.”

Anthony was elected as the Federal Member for Holt in a by-election in 1999, and re-elected in 2001, 2004, 2007, 2010 and 2013. He is known for his stands on human rights issues and inclusive societies.

Source: http://www.africanews.com/2018/02/28/ethiopia-political-uncertainty-and-oromo-persecution-disturbing-australian-mp/

You can watch his full address to parliament

2018 OROMO ANNUAL FORUM HELD ON OROMIA HUMAN RIGHTS

COMMUNITY AND HUMAN RIGHTS FORUM: ENGAGEMENT AND COLLABORATION IN THE SPOTLIGHT

(Melbourne, Australia – 15 January 2018) The annual Oromo community and human rights forum held from 4-7 January 2018 in Melbourne.

continued protests in Oromia affect community life

 

 

The three days Community Annual Forum headed by member of Oromo community from four states: from four states: Victoria-Melbourne, South Australia-Adelaide, Queensland-Brisbane and NSW-Sydney also discussed about community concerns, Oromo asylum seekers and refugees’ issues, Oromo prisoners and Oromia human rights issues.

The Forum was aimed at building understanding of the community issues and providing concrete examples of successful action, engagement and collaboration from which other organisations could draw information and inspiration.

Over three days, more than 100 participants and Oromo activists took part in panel discussions on Oromo refugee issues, Oromo prisoners in Oromia, Oromo community concerns and human rights issues.

The Forum was the foremost event to network, share experiences and learn about the many community-based initiatives from each state to promote community engagements and connections.

The OROMO Annual Forum is the biggest annual gathering on community concerns and human rights with more than 100 participants from Oromo community groups, Oromo activists, Oromo human rights and advocacy groups, Oromo women groups and Oromo media.

The Forum was kindly hosted by Oromo Association in Victoria, Advocacy for Oromia, Oromia Support group, Qeerroo Support Group and Oromo Relief Association Australia.

2017 has been a challenging year for Oromo community in Australia due continued protests and persecution in Oromia

OROMO GRADUATION

By Jitu Wakjira

On December 16 2017, the annual Oromo graduation as held to commemorate and celebrate the year six, twelve and university graduates on their completion of their respective schooling levels and courses. I was one of the graduates, finishing year twelve, and personally, I found it to be a great source of motivation and encouragement especially taking into account that the ATAR score had come out a day before the graduation.

The youth are the pioneers of the future, there is no denying that, and that reigns true within the Oromo community as well. That is why it is so important to uplift and encourage Oromo youth to believe in themselves and push themselves in not only their academics but generally throughout their life so they can be the best and most prosperous versions of themselves. The Oromo graduation serves to do just that. For year six graduates, it aims to celebrate their achievements and encourage them to keep up the good work moving onto high school. One of the speakers on the day, Professor Jamal, thought it important to note that high school is a totally different environment to primary school, giving the graduates advice on how to operate past the primary school level.

For University graduates, the ceremony is of appreciation and support. It was to demonstrate the level of pride and awe we as a community have for the Oromo people who have managed to complete their Bachelors, Graduate degrees and Doctorates in spite of the obstacles they have faced. Often in individualist societies such as Australia, there is a lack of appreciation from a community and the Oromo community counteracts this culture by ensuring everyone receives praise for their hard work and perseverance, demonstrating the integral role communities play in building a prosperous future by providing positive reinforcement for those who do their best to succeed in their fields.

For year twelve graduates such as I, the ceremony is more than support and appreciation. It is reassurance. Aware of the fact that the ATAR score had come out the day before the graduation, Professor Jamal emphasized on the fact that the score does not define the person, or their academic abilities. For those of us worried about our academic futures, he reassured us that there are more ways to get into our preferred courses without the ATAR and further offered his time for those who wanted more advice after the ceremony.

Outside of the Oromo community, black children are often typecast as a lazy and thuggish, often being associated with the inability to achieve any academic excellence. This stereotyping often limits black youth from not only succeeding but also even trying because it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

It is undeniable that there is a racial bias within the western community and this can have debilitating effects on black youth. The Oromo graduation brings together us all together and demonstrates that the stereotypes that would have society believe that we are incapable of achieving any sort of academic prosperity is nothing but a myth designed to maintain racial inequality.

Overall, the ceremony showed me the appreciation that our people have for me and other Oromo youths, and the readiness that Oromo people have to support their youth in everything that they do.

This type of support is important because it serves as a reminder of the fact that we are not alone and will always have our culture and our people to support us in our academic endeavors. It encouraged me to not give up and to continue to try my best in everything that I do, and I hope that this is the case with all the graduates at the ceremony.

HRLHA Call for Urgent World Community Action to Stop Crimes against Humanity in Oromia

(HRLHA, Immediate Release, Dec 13, 2017) The Human Rights League of the Horn of Africa (HRLHA) strongly condemns the brutality of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front / Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (TPLF/EPRDF) Government’s military force who massacred 15 Oromo farmers who were harvesting their crops on 10 Dec, 2017 in Chalanko district, EasternHararge zone.

Ethiopia: War Crimes Against the Oromo Nation in Ethiopia

This comes after two weeks of the TPLF/EPRDF  commanders restarting fresh attacks on Oromos living in border areas near Somali State in which over sixty Oromos were killed  in two weeks- since the last week of Nov 2017 to the present- in Arero district (Borana zone), Cinakseen (Easter Hararge zone) ,and Bordode(Western Hararge zone).  Currently the TPLF/EPRDF led Ethiopian government has deployed thousands of heavily armed military forces all over Oromia regional, state zones and committed extrajudicial killings, and detentions in Kelem and HoroGuduru, western Oromia zone, in Bale, Arsi, Guji and Borana in southern Oromia zones and in Ambo, Walisso,  and Yaya Gullale Central Oromia, Shewa zones.

Among the recent Victimsof  theTPLF/EPRDF military forces:

# Name Zone/District Date of Attack Status
1 TajuYasy East Hararge/Chalanko Dec 10, 2017 Killed
2 AbdiSaliIbro Hararge/Chalanko Dec 10, 2017 Killed
3 Mhamed Abdela Hararge/Chalanko Dec 10, 2017 Killed
4 SaniYuya Hararge/Chalanko Dec 10, 2017 Killed
5 AbdelaYisak Hararge/Chalanko Dec 10, 2017 Killed
6 Abdumalik Uso Hararge/Chalanko Dec 10, 2017 Killed
7 Haru Hasen Hararge/Chalanko Dec 10, 2017 Killed
8 Fesal Yisak Hararge/Chalanko Dec 10, 2017 Killed
9 Michael Abdo Hararge/Chalanko Dec 10, 2017 Killed
10 Mumeadam Hasen Hararge/Chalanko Dec 10, 2017 Killed
11 Tofik Abdo Hararge/Chalanko Dec 10, 2017 Killed
12 Sali Hasen Hararge/Chalanko Dec 10, 2017 Killed
13 Sabaoy Haji Sani, (7th grde student) West Harage/ Hawigudina district Dec 7, 2017 Killed
14 Jamal Hasan  (Milicia) West Harage/ Hawigudina district Dec 7, 2017 Killed
15 three people, no names Borana/Moyale Dec 7, 2017 Killed
16 Hasan Basaa Guji/BuleHora Dec 6, 2017 Killed
17 Kadiro Geda Guji/BuleHora Killed
18 13 people Borana/Arero Nov. 24, 2017 Killed
19 Dejen Belachew Shewa/Yayagullale Nov, 23, 2017 Killed
20 Dirriba Hailu Shewa/YayaGullale Nov, 23, 2017 Killed
21 Girma Shifera Shewa/Yayagullale Nov, 23, 2017 Injured
22 Adane Tibabu Shewa/Yayaullale Nov, 23, 2017 Injured
23 Insa Megersa Shewa/Yayagullale Nov, 23, 2017 Injured

HRLHA has expressed its concerns several times to the world community in general, to Western donor governments (the USA, the UK, Canada, Norway, Sweden), governmental agencies (UN, EU & AU) in particular regarding the  systematic and planned killings targeting educated  Oromo men and women, outstanding university students, Oromo nationalists by the Ethiopian government killing squad, Agazi force which has been deployed by the government deep into community villages  of Oromia.

Advancing its plan of systematic killings of Oromos, the TPLF/EPRDF  government trained another group of killers,  the Liyu Police in Somali Regional State, Eastern neighbor state of Oromia  and deployed them along the border between Oromia and Somali State where they have killed thousands of innocent Oromo  farmers-since 2011 to the present- invading the border Oromo areas. The well trained and armed Liyu Police led by TPLF/EPRDF commanders entered into the OromiaState territory from East and West  Hararge, Bale, Borana, Guji Zones and killed, evicted, abducted Oromos and occupied some areas in Bale, Hararge, Borana and Guji areas permanently. Oromos and Somali are, respectively, the two largest regions in the country by area size, sharing a border of over 1,400 km (870 miles). The attacks of the Liyu Police on Oromos took place not only across the border, they also killed many Oromos living in Somali Regional State towns of Jigjiga, Wuchale, Gode, forcefully disappeared over two hundred Oromo business men and women and displaced over seven hundred  thousand (700,000) others including women, children and seniors.

The  700,000 evicted Oromos from the Somali Regional Statepushed out by the government of Somali state have been deported to Oromiaand are currently suffering in different concentration camps, including in Hamaressain Harar town, Dirredawa and other areas. They are mostly without shelter, and food and are in poor health.

Sadly enough, these displaced Oromos did not get the attention of the TPLF/EPRDF government and did not  receive any humanitarian aid from the federal government of Ethiopia and other sister federal states or from international donor governments and organizations in the past over six months. They depended only on their fellow Oromo brothers and sisters. The Federal Government of Ethiopia which highly depends on Oromia resources (about 70%) for its annual income has failed to provide even emergency  funding to Oromos who have been displaced and chased from Somali Regional State leaving behind their all belongings. The TPLF/EPRDF government and the Oromo People’s Democratic Organization (OPDO),  the  member  of ruling party, the EPRDF deliberately hides the suffering of 700,000 displaced Oromos from the world society, a move equal to genocide.

Based on the violations against the Oromo nation by the Ethiopian government  over the past twenty-five tears, the HRLHAhas found that the serious gross human rights violations committed by the Ethiopia Government against the Oromo nation since 1991 to the present constitute  crimes against humanity under international law. Crimes against humanity are certain acts that are deliberately committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack or individual attacks directed against any civilian or an identifiable part of a civilian population. The crimes against humanity act include: a) forced population transfers and deportation, b) murder, c) rape and other sexual violence, and d) persecution as defined by the Rome Statute  article 7 of the International Criminal Court (ICC) and the ad hoc international criminal courts.

Background:

The World community has witnessed in the past four or more years, since the Oromo mass movement had begun in 2014 to the present,that the Ethiopian people in general and the Oromo people in particular have suffered or are still suffering  under the EPRDF government:

  1. Over4500 Oromos, from young to old, have been brutalized, tens of thousands have been incarcerated and other thousands have been forcefully disappeared during the Oromo protests and over 700 hundred were massacred on October 2, 2016 at the Irrecha Oromo thanksgiving Festival
  2. For the past 26 years, the world has seen that this Ethiopian government does not believe in finding peaceful and sustainable solutions through negotiations with opposition political organizations or in finding solutions for the grievances of the people.
  3. The EPRDF government pretends in front of the world community it is practicing democracy, while the facts on the ground show that the Ethiopian government is committing a crime, a systematic campaign against Oromos that causes human suffering, or death on a large scale-a crime against humanity.

Therefore, the HRLHA urges the international community to act collectively in a timely and decisive manner – through the UN Security Council and in accordance with the UN charter on a case-by – case basis to stop the human tragedy in Oromia, Ethiopia.

The international communities and agencies (AU, EU & UN) can play a decisive role by doing the following:

  • Provide humanitarian aid to the displaced 700,000Oromos immediately to save the life of the people before it is too late
  • Put pressure on the TPLF/EPRDF government to allow neutral investigators to probe into the human rights crisis in the country as a precursor to international community intervention
  • Put pressure on the Ethiopian government to release all political prisoners in the country
  • Intervene to stop crimes against humanity by the Ethiopian military force using the principles of R2P adopted in 2005 by the UN General Assembly
  • Demand thatthe Ethiopian government return its military forces back to their camps from Oromia villages and towns

Copied To:

  • UN Human Rights Council
    OHCHR address: 
    Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR)
    Palais Wilson
    52 rue des Pâquis
    CH-1201 Geneva, Switzerland.
  • Africa Union (AU)
    African Union Headquarters
    P.O. Box 3243 | Roosevelt Street (Old Airport Area) | W21K19 | Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
    Tel: (251) 11 551 77 00 | Fax: (251) 11 551 78 44Webmaster: webmaster@africa-union.org
  • The US Department of State
    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
    Parliamentary
    House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA
    Tel: 020 7219 4055
    Fax: 020 7219 5851
    Email: hammondp@parliament.ukDepartmentalStreet,(DepartmentalStreet???)
    London, SW1A 2AH
    Tel: 020 7008 1500
    Email: fcocorrespondence@fco.gov.uk

OSG Australia call for Urgent Action to stop further catastrophic in Oromia.

(Advocacy4Oromia, 13 December 2017) Oromia Support Group Australia extremely shocked about the killings of innocent Oromo civilians at the  gross civilian killings in Chalanko of Eastern Oromia by the ‘Agazi’, the Tigray People Liberation Front (TPLF) dominated Ethiopian Federal militant forces.

25158200_10213491621196645_365803328403505922_nAccording to Oromia Support Group Australia (OSGA) statement of 13 December 2017,  the Ethiopian Federal forces violently opened fire and killed more than 50 and wounded hundreds of people including kids on Monday, 11 December 2017  in Chalanko of Eastern Oromia.

24909751_10100177680814464_8203953881505010291_n“Particularly, since 16 September 2017 every day we are seeing and hearing heartbreaking images and videos of hundreds of Oromo civilians (including children) being beaten to death and killed by shooting in Eastern Oromia by the Somali regional state of Ethiopia’s special military in collaboration with the Ethiopian Federal Forces.”

Oromia Support Group Australia (OSGA) express its grave concern that if the wave of killings and mass execution in Oromia is ignored it fuels further catastrophic in the region.

“It is critical that the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights urgently act on the severity and scope of the Ethiopian Government Federal military’s ethnic cleansing campaign with effective action.”

Please read full press release from the following link: http://www.osgaustralia.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/Oromia-Support-Group-Australia-Statement-in-the-relation-to-Chalanko-killings.pdf