Free Mr. DAWUD IBSA, the Chairman of the OLF
Koste Yadeta started this petition to United Nations and 1 other
Mr. Dawud Ibsa, chairman of the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF), is one of the most respected and seasoned politicians in Ethiopia. He spent his entire life fighting for his people’s freedom and democratic rights. Today, Mr. Ibsa and his party, the OLF, is one of the largest political parties in the country, with full support from a significant majority of the Oromo people, which represent more than 42% of Ethiopia’s population.
Sadly, on May 3, 2021, at approximately 9:00 PM local time, the government of Abiy Ahmed ordered its military forces and raided Mr. Dawud Ibsa’s residence. During the raid, they confiscated his computer, cellphone, documents, and personal belongings, including cash money and other electronics in his house. Since then, Abiy’s military and security forces have blocked every access to Mr. Dawud Ibsa’s residence. In effect, Mr. Ibsa is being held under house arrest without trial or even accusation of a crime. As a result, families, and friends, including the Ethiopian human rights commission and Africa Union representatives, were prohibited from visiting him. Until now, Mr. Ibsa’s situation is unknown to his families, friends, and the international community.
Although intimidation and imprisonment of members and leaders of competing political parties are customary to successive regimes in Ethiopia, Abiy’s recent move to eliminate political rivalries in the country is extremely dangerous. It is also important to note that most of the members and leaders of the OLF and Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC), the two largest political parties representing Oromia, are languishing in Abiy’s prison for a long time. The attack on Mr. Ibsa’s residence is another manifestation of Abiy’s clampdown on political dissent to cling onto power and Mr. Ibsa was targeted because of his majority support from the Oromo people. Instead of facing him in a democratic election, Abiy and his cliques are choosing to face him and his party with their military power. Such an attempt will only further polarize the situation in the country with imminent catastrophic consequences.
As his belongings, including his cellphone, were confiscated and all communication avenues to him were blocked, it is impossible to know Mr. Ibsa’s current situation. His safety, health, and overall mental and psychological well-being are in danger, and no one knows if Mr. Ibsa has access to basic human needs such as food, water, and other necessities. Considering the precarious reality facing Mr. Dawud Ibsa, we appeal to the Secretary-General of the UN, Mr. António Guterres, to take necessary measure(s) on the government of Abiy Ahmed so that at least families, friends, and representatives of the human rights and international communities are able to visit Mr. Ibsa. A delay in the UN’s action is tantamount to the deterioration of the health and well-being of Mr. Ibsa.
Bedassa Tadesse (PhD), Professor of Economics, University of Minnesota-Duluth
Dessalegn Guyo (PhD), Associate Professor of Social Work
Koste Yadeta (PhD), Molecular Pathologist