The Oromo Community of Washington DC Metro Area condemns atrocities perpetrated by the regime in Ethiopia

January 15, 2020

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This was received about a week ago from Wallaga, where PM Abiy’s regime warplanes dropped bombs to burn the forest.

The Oromo Community Organization of DC Metropolitan Area (OCO-DMV) after conducting a consultative meeting with Oromo leaders and opinion makers from various associations including faith-based organizations, self-help groups, and youth association on January 11, 2020 and after deliberating on the current events unfolding in Oromia Regional State in general and particularly the Western and Southern parts of Oromia issued the following statement.

The Oromo Community residing in Washington Metro Area (DMV) over the years played a significant role in advocating for the respect of human rights, upholding of the rule of law, and ensuring the equality of all peoples living in Ethiopia, OCO-DMV contributed its share in bringing about the recent opening of political space in Ethiopia.

The Western and Southern parts of Oromia Regional State is under military rule, which is neither made official nor declared by the parliament, for more than one year. This has resulted in gross human right violations including mercilessly killing civilians, incarceration of countless individuals in unofficial detention center -like locations, looting of properties of the farming community, destroying farms, etc. Human right organizations have recorded these violations in many of their reports. Community members here in the Washington DC metropolitan that have immediate family in West and South Oromia have shared their knowledge of death, injury and incarceration of their family members of someone they know.

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“Godina Buunnoo Beddellee Aanaa Daabanaa Darruutti waraanni mootummaa Tuullaa Xaafii 12 kan jiraattota 7 abiddaan guggubeera.” This is tef harvest burned down by the government forces. The picture was taken about a week ago in Buno Bedele, Oromia regional state

In order to hide the atrocities perpetrated by its army, federal and special police, the government has shutdown internet, mobile service and telephone lines serving the four Wallagga Zones of West Oromia starting January 04, 2020. Our community is gravely concerned particularly because this shutdown was just after recent massive deployment of newly trained special force to the area. We suspect the shutdown is to conceal atrocities of the army and hide the extent of the suffering of the population. Currently, many of our community members with relatives in those areas have no way of knowing what is going on with their loved ones and highly concerned.

The Oromo community in Washington DC area are well aware of the fact that action of the government could destabilize the country and derail the transition to democracy for which thousands have paid the ultimate sacrifices with their lives. Although, Prime Minister, Abiy Ahmed, received the Nobel Peace Prize, the brutal force used by his military to silence dissent in this part of the country speaks otherwise.

The Oromo Community of Washington DC Metropolitan Area denounces the atrocities perpetrated by the government forces on civilians in the Western and Southern parts of Oromia Regional State and demand from the government of Ethiopia:

  1. To remove the illegal command post (military) administration in western Oromia, Southern Oromia and Southern Nations and Nationalities and Peoples Regions.
  2. To immediately release political prisoners, human rights activists, and social leaders arrested in western Oromia, Southern Oromia, and Southern Nations and Nationalities and Peoples Regions.
  3. To restore access to internet and phone services in the four Wallagga Zones of west Oromia and allow the population to exercise their constitutional right under article 19 of the federal constitution of Ethiopia- people’s right to thought, opinion, and expression.
  4. To allow a neutral party to investigate human right violations perpetrated in southern and western Zones of Oromia and Southern Nations and Nationalities and Peoples Regions
  5. To engage in peaceful negotiation with any armed group, namely with Oromo Liberation Army (OLA), allegedly operating in southern and western Zones of Oromia and to seek political solution. The recent history of Ethiopia has shown us that violence and suppression of people’s legitimate demand will neither bring sustained peace nor stability required for economic development.
  6. To stop making government owned media the mouthpiece of ruling party’s propaganda that keeps seeding conflicts by glorifying the past and evoking historical trauma of the nations and peoples in today’s Ethiopia.
  7. To focus on the democratic transition and preparation for upcoming election than seeding conflict and attempting to silence the voice of the people in pursuit of ruling party, Abiy Ahmed, staying in power by all means.

We demand the US and other donor governments supporting the transition to put pressure on PM Abiy’s government to allow neutral investigators to probe into the humanitarian and human right crisis created by the command post (military) rule in the Southern and Western Zones of Oromia Regional State.

The OCO of Washington DC Metropolitan Area reiterates its commitment to advocate for upholding human rights, rule of law and equality of all peoples living in Ethiopia, and its support to the peaceful transition to democratic governance through the upcoming election of 2020, which we expect to be fair, free, and competitive.

Sincerely

Oromo Community Organization, DC (DMV)

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