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Oromia: the Endless Violence against Oromo Nationals Continues

More than 50 Oromo students arrested by Ethiopia’s TPLF regime in Ambo, Oromia; 20 being tortured

More than 50 Oromo students arrested by Ethiopia’s TPLF regime in Ambo, Oromia; 20 being tortured

The following is a statement from the Human Rights League of the Horn of Africa (HRLHA).

——-

Fear of Torture | HRLHA Urgent Action

For Immediate Release

(Advocacy for Oromia, 8 May 2015) Harassments and intimidations through arbitrary arrests, kidnappings and disappearances have continued unabated in Ambo and the surrounding areas against Oromo youths and intellectuals since the crackdowns of last year April, 2014, when more than 79 Oromos, mostly youths, were killed by members of the federal security force.

HRLHAAccording to HRLHA correspondents in Ambo, the major target of this most recent government-sponsored violence were Ambo University and high schools Oromo students in Ambo town.In this incident which started on April 20, 2015 more than 50 university and high school students were arrested; more than 20 were severely beaten by the security force and taken to Ambo General Hospital for treatment.Although it has been difficult to identify everyone by their names, HRLHA correspondents have confirmed that the following were among the arrestees:

No Name Sex Occupation
1 Magarsa Mashsha Ayyana M Student /Ambo University, health professional
2  Urgessa Danana M Student, Rift Valley College
3 Birehanu Diriba M Teacher, Rift Valley College
4 Getachew Gadaa Dereje M Student, Jimma University
5 Tarku Debisa M
6 Abdata Olansa M
7 Marara Tujuba M
8 Homa Hundasa
9 Argamsisa Lenjisa M Student, Ambo University 4thyear Engineering
10 Obsa Abdissa M Student, Liban Mecha school 9th grade
11 Homa Hundassa M
12 Kumsa Bayisa M Student, Liban Mecha school 9th grade
13 Tadesse Sime M Student, Liban Mecha School 9th grade
14 Daran Demisse M Businessman Kebele 02, Ambo
15 Amsalu Midhaqsa M
15 Solomon Abebe M Student, 10th grade
16 Gamachu Siyum M
17 Sisay Lamessa M
18 Misgana Chemeda M
19 Geleta Chaluma M
20 Chimidessa Mutasa M

ugesa

Those who were badly beaten and hospitalized in Ambo general Hospital:

1 Gabisee Simee Student, 7th grade
2 Motuma Kumala
3 Bdhassa Gurmu
4 Rajiif Qajela Student, 9th grade
5 Fayera bekele M Student, 9th grade

According to HRLHA reporters, the arrests were made to clear out supporters and members of the other political organizations running for the fifth election to be held May 24, 2015. The EPRDF, led by the late Meles Zenawi, claimed victory in the elections of 1995, 2000, 2005 and 2010. The TPLF/EPRDF government of Ethiopia has started a campaign of intimidation against its opponents. Extra-judicial arrests and imprisonments particularly in the regional state of Oromia, the most populous region in the country, began starting at the end of October 2014.

The Human Rights League of the Horn of Africa (HRLHA) expresses its deep concern over the safety and well-being of these Oromo nationals who have been arrested without any court warrant and are being held at police stations and unknown detention centers. The Ethiopian government has a well-documented record of gross and flagrant violations of human rights, including the torturing of its own citizens who were suspected of supporting, sympathizing with and/or being members of the opposition political organizations. There have been credible reports of physical and psychological abuses committed against individuals in Ethiopian official prisons and other secret detention centers.

HRLHA calls upon governments of the West, all local, regional and international human rights agencies to join hands and demand the immediate halt to such extra-judicial actions against one’s own citizens, and the unconditional release of the detainees.

RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send appeals to the Ethiopian Government and its officials as swiftly as possible, in English, Ahmaric, or your own language. The following are suggested:

  • Indicate your concern about citizens being tortured in different detention centers including the infamous Ma’ikelawi Central Investigation Office; and calling for their immediate and unconditional release;
  • Urge the Ethiopian authorities to ensure that detainees will be treated in accordance with the regional and international standards on the treatment of prisoners, and that their whereabouts be disclosed, and
  • Make sure the coming May 24, 2015 election is fair and free

For more information May 07, 2015 HRLHA UA

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Ethiopian mother angry over murdered son

The Advocacy for Oromia expresses its deepest condolences to the families of the victims of the MH17 plane disaster. We are so sorry to hear such tragedy. Tragedies like this have a devastating affect on both the global community and local communities – our thoughts are with everyone touched by these events, in Victoria, all over Australia and overseas, at this difficult time.

Graduate at Ambo University in Ambo, Ethiopia

“ I think they were killing people on purpose” Yeshi, mother of man shot dead in April in Ambo. “Yeshi” is still trying to come to terms with the trauma of discovering the body of her son being carried through the streets of the Ethiopian city of Ambo.

A 27-year-old rickshaw driver, he had been caught up in deadly protests between the police and students in the city in April.

They were demonstrating about plans to extend the administrative control of the capital, Addis Ababa, into Oromia state.

Oromia is the country’s largest region and completely surrounds Addis Ababa – and some people feared they would be forced off their land and lose their regional and cultural identity if the plans went ahead.

The government says the “Masterplan”, as it is known, would allow them to better extend city services to rural areas.

However for Yeshi – who asked for her name and those of her family to be changed – the heavy-handed response by the security forces that saw her son shot in the head is hard to fathom.

She had come across a group of people carrying a body and overheard people saying it was her son, Tamiru.

Unable to recognise his features as they were too disfigured, she identified him by his “clothes and shoes”.

“I think they were killing people on purpose,” she told the BBC, saying that Tamiru was not directly involved in any trouble that day.

Red roses

Five other young people were also killed with bullet wounds to the head, she says.

One of her other surviving sons, Ibsa, said he was unable to believe that his brother was dead and asked for the coffin to be opened.

“His head was blackened and torn apart. The bullet had gone through his temple. You couldn’t identify him by his face but I recognised his body,” he said.

“He was a very good boy, level-headed. He did well in his studies. Nobody has a bad word to say about him… But what good is that now?”

Three months later it was a very different atmosphere in Ambo, which is about 125km (77 miles) west of the capital and was the focal point of the protests.

When the BBC team visited, it was in the middle of the graduation season and the area around the university was full of graduates in their gowns and caps ahead of their big ceremony.

Entrance to Ambo University
The violence in April took place by the entrance to Ambo University…
Ambo University's entrance with a sign about a forthcoming graduation ceremony
… where students graduated this month

Students were posing for photographs with armfuls of red roses wrapped in cellophane and the mood was one of celebration.

Yet this was the same place – the main entrance to Ambo University – where witnesses say the protesters and police clashed in April.

The government says that 17 lives were lost in the violence. Opposition, human rights groups and some eyewitnesses say the figure is much higher.

‘Rabble rousers’

Ethiopia’s Information Minister Redwan Hussein old the BBC the dead included five students and 12 civilians and strongly denies that the government was responsible for any of the violence.

The protest was hijacked by “rabble rousers” with a political agenda – “hell-bent on raising havoc”, he said.

“They were shooting, they had guns – ammunitions,” Mr Redwan said.

map

“They were attacking and fighting so it was not through the government shooting, or the police shooting that people died.”

He dismissed accusations from international human rights organisations that police and government security forces shot at unarmed protesters.

“Whatever they said was not actually founded on facts.”

The students, the minister added, had a right to ask questions about the “Masterplan” and that the government was “ready to discuss” it with them.

Mathewos Asfaw, general manager of the “Masterplan”, told the BBC that the demonstrators had completely misunderstood the project and that no-one would be forced off their land.

“The plan doesn’t have a single concept or idea of expansion, because it’s not possible to expand the city of Addis beyond the current boundary and jurisdiction.”

Ethiopia is no stranger to accusations of intolerance when dealing with its critics and opposition groups.

The UN Human Rights Council recently recommended that the country improve on its media freedom and pay more attention to human rights.

Mr Redwan says he has “no objection” to the recommendations as they are already “being implemented”.

This is no consolation for Yeshi, who remains dressed in traditional mourning clothes.

“I’m very sad – until now I’m not right in the head. I’m walking around like a zombie. I’m not OK.”

Source: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-28485044?SThisFB

 

Communication style in Oromia is BEYOND non-direct

Ambo Protests: Going back

After deciding that we wanted to leave Ethiopia, we had return to Ambo to pack our bags and say goodbye to our friends. Packing our bags turned out to be the easy part.

When we arrived back in Ambo, the destruction was still apparent, although the cleanup had already started. The burned cars were pulled to the side of the road. The debris from the damaged buildings was already being cleared. The problem, however, was that the courthouse was one of the buildings that was burned. How do they plan on having trials for those hundreds of people we saw in jail, we wondered.

We wanted to tell all our friends why we were leaving, but how could we say it? Maybe we should say, “It’s not OK for the police to hunt down young people and shoot them in the back.” Or maybe we should say, “It’s not OK for us to have to cower in our home, listening to gunshots all day long.” Or maybe we should say, “It’s not OK for the government to conduct mass arrests of people who are simply voicing their opinion.” Since the communication style in Oromia is BEYOND non-direct, with people afraid to really say what they mean, we knew exactly what to tell people:

“We are leaving Ambo because we don’t agree with the situation,” we repeated to every friend we encountered. Everyone knew EXACTLY what we were talking about.

We told our friend, a town employee, we were leaving, and he said, “Yes, there are still 500 federal police in town, two weeks after the protests ended.”

We told a neighbor we were leaving, and he said, “Now there is peace in Ambo. Peace on the surface. But who knows what is underneath?”

We told a teacher at the high school we were leaving, and she was wearing all black. “Maal taate? (What happened)” we asked. One of her 10th grade students was killed during the protests.

We told the local store owner we were leaving, and she said, in an abnormally direct way, “When there is a problem, your government comes in like a helicopter to get you out. Meanwhile, our government is killing its own people.”

After a traditional bunna (coffee) ceremony, and several meals with some of our favorite friends, we were the proud owners of multiple new Ethiopian outfits, given as parting gifts so we would ‘never forget Ethiopia.’

How could we forget?

We still don’t know exactly who died during the protests and the aftermath. It’s not like there is an obituary in the newspaper or something. But questions persist in our minds every day:

  • Our two young, dead neighbors remain faceless in our minds…was it the tall one with the spiky hair?
  • Students from the high school were killed…had any of the victims been participants of our HIV/soccer program?
  • What about that good-looking bus boy that is always chewing khat and causing troubleis he alive? in jail?
  • How many people were killed? How many arrested?
  • If we knew the exact number of people killed or arrested, would it actually help the situation in any way?