April 30, 2012

Oromo: Belgian Advocacy Campaign Successful

A successful three-day campaign in Belgium, honored by a special delegation of Oromo communities in Europe, drew the attention to land grabbing and human rights violations of the Oromo people. 

Below is an article published by Gazaa.com:

A successful three-day campaign to bring awareness about land grabbing and human rights violations in Oromia and Ethiopia was conducted from 26-28th of April 2012 in Brussels and Antwerp, Belgium.

The campaign, which lasted for three days, started on the 26th of April 2012, when a delegation from Oromo communities in Europe – consisting of Mr. Mulugeta Mossissa from the Netherlands, Prof. Mekuria Bulcha from Sweden, Mr. Tesfaye Metta from Belgium and Dr. Alemayehu Kumsa from Czech Republic – headed to the Office of the President of the European Parliament and was received by Mr. Marc Jütten, Advisor for the External Policies in the President’s Cabinet. During the meeting, which lasted for an hour, the delegates informed Mr. Mark about the human rights violations in Oromia and Ethiopia. The discussions covered various aspects of human rights violations in the country with focused on land grabbing, evictions of Oromo farmers, and the conditions of the Oromo refugees in the Horn of Africa and Yemen.

The delegates also pointed the role that the EU aid to the Ethiopian government plays in boosting the moral and military might of the dictatorship that rules the country, and its direct effect on the suffering of the Oromo people under the same regime, which hunts Oromo dissidents to the extent of thousands of miles from its borders in the sovereign territory of other nations – sometimes in complicit with concerned state securities.

Mr. Mark promised to deliver the concern of the delegates to the EU Parliament’s President, Mr. Martin Schulz, and to mention the issue with concerned authorities.

Letters with similar appeals were also delivered to the European Council’s President, Mr. Van Rompuy, and to the European Commission’s President, Mr. José Manuel Durão Barroso, from which concerted and practical actions are expected.

On the demonstration held in front of the EU Commission, the concerned Oromo community members from different European countries have voiced their anger and protest against massive land grabbing, human rights violations, and grave situations of political prisoners and the Oromo refugees. They also voiced their disappointment by the misuse of the EU aid by the Ethiopian dictatorial government, which uses it as a tool to oppress Oromo and other nations and peoples in Ethiopia. Dr. Getachew Jigi and Professor Mekuria Bulcha also gave brief speech on the conclusion of the demonstration.

On the third day of the event, a comprehensive seminar was held on different themes by senior professors and advocates of human rights. Professor Mekuria Bulcha from from Malardalen University of Sweden have presented on two themes; namely, political and economic effects of land grabbing in Oromia, and an overview of the historical and cultural underpinnings of the Oromo struggle for national identity and independence. Professor Girma Gebresenbet, from Agricultural University of Sweden, on his part presented a field research based paper on the long-term effect of land grabbing on the environment.

A renowned human rights advocate and chairman of the Oromia Support Group (OSG), Dr. Trevor Trueman also shared his firsthand and well documented aspects of human rights violations in Oromia and the Southern Nations.

There was a heated debate and active participation from the audience from the beginning to the late evening until 9pm. Participants of the event underlined that this event should only be the beginning of the big advocacy campaign on the often forgotten issues of human rights, land grabbing, situations of Oromo refugees, and the issues of more than 25,000 of Oromo political prisoners. A call for closer cooperation, unity and action was made to all participants.

They have called upon all Oromos around the globe to follow suit in raising awareness about land grabbing, human rights, political prisoners and Oromo refugees as timely issues needing timely responses.