Press Release: Advocacy for Justice for the Oromo People (AJOP)

Press Release

Advocacy for Justice for the Oromo People

Tumsa Haqa Saba Oromo


February 07, 2021

It is unfortunate that the Ethiopian government is aggressively detaining the Oromo People without trial and by ignoring the decisions of the judiciary body for those tried. The Advocacy for Justice for the Oromo People is seriously concerned about the detention of Oromo political leaders and supporters and the unjust practices committed by the government and would like to release this public press.

Amnesty International (3 March 2020) reported that Abdi Regaasa – a senior member of the opposition political party Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) – remains missing after being arrested by security forces alongside eight other party members in Addis Ababa that broke into his home on 29 February 2020. Amnesty International requested the government that they must immediately disclose Abdi Regassa’s whereabouts, charge him with a recognizable crime under the law or release him without further delay. But the government didn’t care about this concern, and he is still in prison.

Furthermore, reliable sources confirm that members of the leadership of OLF, including Abdi Regaasa, Michael Boran, Lami Begna, and Dawit Abdata, were bailed four times by courts at different levels:

  • First, the Sululta district court ordered their release on bail of 15,000 birr. But the police refused to free them.
  • Then, Addis Ababa Special Zone High Court ordered their release; the prison administration complied with the order. However, members of the Oromia Special Police rounded them right away before they left the prison compound and sent them to Sebata prison.
  • The prosecutor now came up with a new charge against Abdi Regaasa, Lami Begna, and Dawit Abdata along with other Oromo prisoners. The court then ordered their release on bail of 20,000 birr each. However, with the aim of obstructing the release, Abdi Regaasa was served with another charge while on trial; Lami and Dawit were released on bail, but have been locked up again within two weeks.
  • The prosecutor dropped the charges brought against Mikael Boran, Kenasa Ayan Abdulgafar, and Colonel Gammachu Ayana. However, the police refused to let them free and locked them up in Sidist Kilo secret prison. Colonel Gammachu was then taken from his prison cell to Mexico—Federal Police headquarters. Gammachu was then transferred to Kilinto, Kaliti prisons, now thrown in a dark room and his health is at risk.
  • In the second week of January 2021, Lami and Dawit were acquitted and the court ordered their release. However, police are still keeping them in detention with apparent order from the highest office within the authorities. They are still denied their freedom and languishing in prison.
  • Galan district court ordered the release of Michael Kenasa and Abdulgafar. Despite four rounds of court-mandated release orders, they are denied this right and are still in prison.
  • Oromo Federalist Congress party members, Jawar Mohammed, Bekele Gerba, Hamza Borena, and Shamsadin Teha were detained on June 30, 2020, for the unfounded allegation of causing the death of a police officer during the disputed arrangement of Hacaalu Hundessa’s burial. Later on, they were accused of many fabricated crimes where no evidence was found against them as was claimed. They are in penduline every two weeks, with no substantial evidence from the prosecutors.
  • Aman File, a member of OLF central committee, locked up 10 months ago, was freed by the district court of Burayu. The police, however, refused to release him and moved him across major prisons in the country, and finally jailed him in Yabello, Borana Zonal Police office. He is never brought before any court; his whereabouts was kept undisclosed.
  • Meti Milko, the secretary of OLF’s Chairman is languishing in a police station in Burayu for four months, with no charges brought against her so far.
  • Gamachis Tolasa, a member of OLF executive committee, was arrested while on routine duty in Bedelle four months ago. No court appearance, no charges brought so far.

Many of these inmates have been kept in prison for more than a year. By denying the right to be tried in line with its own constitution, it is evident that the Ethiopian government is violating human rights provided by the universal human rights declaration, and is breaching its own constitutional provision of Article 19 sub-article 3 which stipulates “Everyone shall have the right to be brought before a court of law within 48 hours after his arrest”.

AJOP is seriously concerned about the lengthy legal procedures, judicial futility, and intended contempt of the authorities for the court order. violating not only the rights of these detainees but gravely inflicting damage to their physical and mental wellbeing.

We are also solemnly concerned that some of these detainees are suffering from underlying medical conditions and do not get enough food, water, and medication they needed. Their counselors are not able to meet them at the usual visitors’ site as their health is deteriorating and they couldn’t come forward to meet them and were forced to meet them in the cells they were kept while lying down.

Therefore: –

 1) AJOP demands the Ethiopian government to release these political prisoners or take responsibility for anything that may happen to them otherwise:

2) AJOP requests the international humanitarian organizations to increase their efforts to closely observe and report their circumstances in prison;

3) AJOP also requests the AU, UN, and other freedom-loving countries to employ pressure on the Ethiopian government to release these prisoners which we believe will contribute to the relief of rampant chaos and atrocities in the country.

Lastly, we regret that we couldn’t enclose the list of thousands of other Oromos languishing in prisons across Oromia at this juncture due to incomplete data, which we will report on soon in the future.07 February 2021.

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