The safety and well-being of the Oromo political prisoners including Mr. Dawud Ibsa, chairman of the Oromo Liberation Front, are in a grave danger
Press Released by Global Oromo Advocacy Group (GOAG)
Intimidating, jailing, persecuting and killing of citizens, especially, Oromo politicians and self-conscious Oromo elites have been the culture for the successive Ethiopian leaders. Although true for most citizens of other nations and nationalities, the Oromo people are specifically targeted by the Ethiopian governments and its political system for decades. When Dr. Abiy Ahmed, the current Prime minister of Ethiopia, took over the premiership, most people genuinely hoped that the dictatorial system in Ethiopia will come to an end. The anticipation was high both nationally and internationally. In reality, what happened since then and currently happening is contrary to the anticipation. The Ethiopian government’s involvement in the assassination of artist Hacaalu Hundessa, prominent Oromo singer and song writer, is the most recent indicator of the abusive character of this dictatorial regime. Being thrown in jail without any wrong-doing or for just being a member or a supporter of any Oromo political party became the new normal in Ethiopia. The recent rounds of mass arrest and imprisonment of Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) and Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC) leaders, members and supporters, perpetrated by the Ethiopian security forces, are evident of that. In fact, the extent of the crackdown on OLF leaders are very alarming.
As we recall, Hacaaluu Hundessa, a famous Oromo artist, was assassinated on June 29, 2020. Many believe that the government of Dr. Abiy Ahmed has been involved in the plot leading to his assassination. Instead of establishing an independent investigator, the government is rather busy arresting and intimidating the Oromo political party leaders and supporters, activists, journalists, and above all, the Oromo youths across Oromia, as if all involved in the assassination of Haccaluu Hundessa. Members and supporters of the OLF are specifically targeted in this event across the regions. Worse, the government security forces have killed more than 300 innocent Oromo citizens and incarcerated more than 15,000 people just for protesting peacefully against the killing of the artist. Such reckless measures taken by the government security forces on dissent further angered and intensified the protest and the continuation of the killings. This made many to believe that the government of Dr. Abiy Ahmed has a direct involvement or at least participated in the plot leading to the assassination of the artist to use it as a pretext to crackdown on political opponents.
As we prepare this press, the government security forces are carrying on massive arresting and killing innocent Oromos across Oromia. The OLF and OFC leaders, members and supporters are the main target of the government security forces and there is no way that all these detainees have been involved in the assassination of Hacaalu Hundessa. Perhaps the motivation is clearly political rather than being related to Hacaalu’s killing. The following are just few of the high profile OLF and OFC leaders and members jailed for no reasons;
1). Mrs. Chaltu Takele, head of the OLF branch office, Shambo
2). Dr. Shigut Geleta (PhD), advisor, OLF
3). Mr. Michael Boran, member of the central committee, OLF
4). Kol. Gemechu Ayana, advisor, OLF
5). Mr. Bekele Gerba, secretary, OFC
6). Mr. Jawar Mohammed, member, OFC
7). Mr. Lemi Begna, Member, OLF
8). Mr. Dakeba Wario (community elder)
9). Mr. Dejene Tafa, member, OFC
10). Mr. Sisay Dirriba, Lecturer, Haramaya University. Mr. Sisay is the brother of Mr. Marroo Dirriba, commander-in-chief of the Oromo Liberation Army (OLA), Western wing, and he has no affiliation with any political party. We believe that Mr. Sisay was detained solely for being the family member of Mr. Marro Dirriba.
Sadly, except few of the OFC members listed above and Chaltu Takele, as of now, none of the OLF leaders, members and supporters arrested have been brought to court, violating their constitutional rights to get fair trial. In addition, 103 OLF members serving the party in different capacity at the party’s headquarter (Gullallee, Finfinne) and various branch offices across the country are being arrested and the whereabout of these detainees are still unknown to the families and relatives. We also recall that Mr. Abdi Regassa (Member of the executive committee, OLF), Yaso Kebebe (Member, OLF) and Kayo Fufa (Member, OLF), were arrested about two months ago and since then are suffering in prison. Our sources indicate that the court found Mr. Abdi Regassa not guilty of any charges against him and the court declared him free. However, the Ethiopian government security and police forces failed to obey the court order and continued keeping him in prison. This is a prime example of the absence of the rule of law in Ethiopia, and this was not the first time. Neither Mr. Yaso Kebebe nor Mr. Kayo Fufa have gotten fair trial too. Therefore, GOAG is gravely concerned about the well-being of all these detainees and call on the Ethiopian government to either immediately release or arrange a fair trial for them. We would also like to alert the international community to pressure the Ethiopian government to uphold the implementation of its own constitution and international laws.
Continued cracking down on political opponents, since July 3, 2020, the government of Dr. Abiy Ahmed has put the OLF leader Mr. Dawud Ibsa and the OFC leader Prof. Merera Gudina under house arrest. And since July 24, 2020, the telephone line of Mr. Dawud Ibsa has been cut off and the security forces have been disallowed anyone from visiting him. The situation that Mr. Dawud Ibsa currently experiencing is extremely worrisome to anyone with decent human imagination. The GOAG is seriously concerned for the physical and mental health as well as the psychological well-being of Mr. Dawud Ibsa. We are also worried for his safety and security as he has no connection with the outside world, to his relatives and friends due to the telephone line cut off. If true, what is trending on social media is rather disturbing; the government of Dr. Abiy Ahmed is plotting to kill Mr. Dawud Ibsa. Forced with this urgency, the GOAG calls upon all international diplomats, human rights defenders, international communities and governments to put utmost pressure on Dr. Abiy Ahmed’s government to end this senseless house arrest and return the telephone line of Mr. Dawud Ibsa. It is imperative to rationalize if such politically motivated harassment of political opponents does exhibit any good to the country and peace process in any way.
Accordingly, the GOAG hereby call up on;
- The Oromo people to stand together, regardless of affiliation to any political party or ideology, and defend our common national interest from the Ethiopian government and its affiliates. GOAG strongly advises the Oromo public to focus on the major threat to our existence, which is the Ethiopian political system. Unless the political system of the country toward Oromo and other nations and nationalities is changed from its foundation, the suffering of our people will continue.
- The people of other nations and nationalities to stand with the Oromo people and fight against our common enemy, the injustice of the Ethiopian political system. Though, today, the crisis looks Oromo issues, tomorrow, it will certainly be yours too. Thus, you should stop looking the crisis from the sideline. It is worthwhile fighting today with the Oromo people for our common goods in the future, and thus, GOAG calls upon you to smartly act now with the Oromo public.
- The international community, human rights organizations, and governments to urgently act to stop the current political crisis in Ethiopia. GOAG believes that unless acted upon in timely manner, the situation will get worse and that will result in a significant human catastrophe in Ethiopia, and it is not hard to predict the extent of this crisis in the Horn of Africa.
Therefore, GOAG would like to alarm the international community to responsibly act before the situation gets out of control resulting in more tragic human disaster in the region and beyond.
Justice for all
Global Oromo Advocacy Group
July 29, 2020