Ethiopia: The New Prime Minister Has Failed to Stop
Arbitrary Detentions, Enforced Disappearances, and
Torture in Ethiopia
HRLHA Press Release
April 15, 2018
The Human Rights League of the Horn of Africa (HRLHA) strongly condemns the arbitrary killings of an Oromo Woman, Ayantu Mohammed Seyid, who was six months pregnant, by the TPLF/EPRDF regime military members deployed by the so called “Command Post” authorities on April 9, 2018 in West Hararge Zone, in Kobo town. According to the Voice of America radio (VOA) Amharic service report, Ayantu’s sister, Chaltu Mohammed, confirmed with VOA on April 10, 2018, that her sister, Ayyantu Mohammed Seyid, was killed by TPLF/ EPRDF military members while defending herself from being raped by three members of the military on a street while she returned from her sister’s home at night. In another arbitrary killing, Mr. Mardassa Yadassa, 70 was shot dead and his son Dinka Mardassa critically wounded by the TPLF killing Squad Agazi force on April 11, 2018 at their home in Kombo village of Sadi Chanqa district, Qelem West Wallaga Zone.
Since the second round of the State of Emergency was announced on February 17, 2018 by the Defense Minister Siraj Fegessa following Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn’s resignation (Feb 15, 2018), the military members have been given a killing license with the sole objective of suppressing the popular uprising – and to “kill without warning”-those who have been demanding equality, freedom and justice.
According to HRLHA’s informants in Oromia, in the past two months under the State of Emergency which has targeted Oromo youth (Qeerroo), over 63,000 Oromos including Oromo youths (Qeerroo) members, Oromia Zones and District authorities, and Oromia police members have been arbitrarily detained by the regime military forces. The Military, deployed all over the Oromia Regional State and stationed in schools, Colleges and University compounds and community offices in different Oromia zones, has continued committing atrocities against the Oromo nation despite the new Prime Minister Dr. Abiy Mohamed Ali’s promises to bring political change to the country in his inauguration speech on April 2, 2018.
University students are under attack by the Ethiopian regime’s military deployed and permanently encamped on university campuses. Several university students of Haromaya, Jimma, Wallaga and others have been detained and the teaching and learning process has been disrupted. Haromaya University has been closed for over a month due to the dispute between the students and the military camped in their campus; the students have been demanding the release of over 40 university students detained by the military. The military invaded the students’ dormitory at night on April 13, 2018 and beat students-over 36 students were seriously injured and have been transferred to Harar and Dirredawa Hospitals for treatment.
Forced Population Transfers as a Crime against Humanity
The invasion of Oromia districts with across the Ethiopian Somali border by the Liyyu police, the Somali Militia commanded by the TPLF commanders, has also continued unabated and many Oromos have been forced to leave their homes and villages in fear of their lives. Contrary to domestic and international laws which recognize that forced population transfers are crimes against humanity, no one has been held accountable for the crimes committed against Oromo nationals. The Oromo nationals living inside Somali Region and around Somali border inside Oromia have been subjected to forced transfer; according to the Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC), which came into force on July 1, 2002, forcing is included among its definition of crimes against humanity Article 7 (d) “deportation or forcible transfer of population.” The crime of forcible transfer of a population includes “the full range of coercive pressures on people to flee their homes, including death threats, destruction of their homes, and other acts of persecution, such as depriving members of a group of employment, denying them access to schools, and forcing them to wear a symbol of their religious identity.”
To be recognized as a crime against humanity under the requirements mentioned in the ICC statute, the forcible transfer of a population also must be committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack directed against any civilian population, with knowledge of the attack. The attack does not necessarily need to be a military attack as defined under customary international humanitarian law, and or need not even involve military forces or armed hostilities, or any violent force at all.
As noted, since late 2016 more than 1.2 Oromo nationals have been forced to flee the Somali Regional State to Oromia, over 50 Oromos have been murdered in and around Jigjiga City, and over 200 others have been subjected to enforced disappearances. While the new Prime Minister of Ethiopia was visiting the Somali Region, the attack on the Oromo-Somali border was intensified in which an Oromo person was shot.
Most of the 1.2 million Oromo nationals who have been forced to leave the Somali Regional State are still left with no sufficient food and shelters, according to the UNICEF Ethiopia Humanitarian Situation Report #2 – released on 28 February 2018. Based on the current Ethiopian weather forecast, UNICEF Ethiopia requested Immediate life-saving assistance for forcefully displaced Oromos around the border areas of Somali and Oromia regions.
The forcefully transferred Oromo nationals from Somali State did not get enough attention from the newly TPLF/EPRDF appointed Prime Minister, Dr. Abiy Mohamed. The TPLF/EPRDF government and the Oromo People’s Democratic Organization (OPDO), the members of ruling party are deliberately sidestepping the suffering of the forced displaced Oromos from the world society, a move equal to a crime against hum-anity.
The TPLF/EPRDF government pretends- in front of the world community- that it is bringing reform to its government by appointing a new Prime Minister who is expected to lead the country based on the TPLF/EPRDF’s political policy. Most Ethiopians do not believe this as a reform, but simply a change from one TPLF/EPRDF member to another TPLF/EPRDF member.
Though the new Prime Minster has appointed, the Human Rights League of the Horn of Africa (HRLHA) has been very concerned about the unclear plan and steps taken by the Government authorites in the past two months, ever since the government promised to widen the political space for all inclusive dialogue to bring peace and stability where the rights of the citizens are respected based on the domestic and international rule of law. It is the responsibility of the newly appointed Prime Minister, Dr. Abiy Mohammed, to uphold the promises of his government to restore peace and democracy in the country by stopping further arbitrary killings and detentions which have spread more since he assumed power.
To solve the political, humanitarian and human rights crisis, which has continued after the new Prime Minister came to power promising to restore peace and stability in the country, the HRLHA recommends:
- Immediately abort the unlawful state of emergency imposed on Ethiopians on March 18, 2018
- Release all prisoners of conscience unconditionally, including those kept in confinement over the past 28 years
- Repeal all repressive laws, including the draconian Anti-Terrorism Proclamation and the Ethiopian Charities and Societies Proclamation, which have been used by the government to quell the dissent
- Call all Opposition Political Organizations for a dialogue to find an all- inclusive political solution to bring peace and stability by averting the political, humanitarian and human rights crisis in the country
- Stop the Liyu Police invasion against Oromia territory and bring to justice the Federal Government Generals/commanders who backed the attack against Oromo civilians along the Somali-Oromo border and
- Bring to justice the Somali Region authorities who committed crimes against humanity by forceful displacement, killing and enforced disappearances
- Bring to justice the Agazi force and National Minitary members committed mass murder at:
- Ambo Town, Oromia Regional State 10 October 26, 2017
- Chelenko Town, Oromia Regional State 15 December 10, 2017
- Woldia, Amhara Regional State 7 January 20, 2018
- Hamaressa, Oromia Regional State 11 February 10, 2018 including Under age children