July 13, 2015

UNPO's XII General Assembly Adopts Oromo Resolution

On 3 July 2015, Dr Shigut Geleta of the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) presented a resolution to UNPO's XII General Assembly, affirming his organisation's abhorrence of the current situation faced by Oromo people in Ethiopia, and expressing a desire for more genuine democracy, greater involvement from the international community, and an end to state-sponsored violence. UNPO adopted the resolution, thus affirming its support for the Oromos' demands for justice and equality. 

Below is the full text of the resolution:

 

Resolution

The Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) was established in 1973/1974 by Oromo nationalists in the heart of Oromia, Finfinne (Addis Ababa) to exercise the Oromo people's inalienable right to national self-determination, to terminate a century of oppression and exploitation, and to form the independent republic of Oromia, or where possible, a political union with other peoples based on equality, respect for mutual interests and the principle of voluntary association. Today OLF has grown and expanded to all parts of Oromo land (Oromia). During the last 40 years, the organization has become of the leading political forces in the region. It has brought about or influenced several positive changes in the Oromo society where it has the unparalleled support of the whole population.

The Oromo constitute more than 40% of Ethiopia’s estimated 98.9 Million inhabitants. They maintain a distinct and homogenous culture, and a common language, history, descent, and separate territory from Abyssinians, who created the Ethiopian empire state. During their long history, the Oromos developed their own cultural, social and political system, known as the Gadaa. The Gadaa is a democratic, political, and social institution that governed the life of every individual in the society until its systematic suppression by the occupiers.

 

The UNPO General Assembly,

Underlining the persistent violation of human rights in Oromia, Ethiopia that includes arbitrary killings, disappearance,  torture, beating, abuse and mistreatment of detainees by security forces, life-threatening prison conditions, arbitrary arrest and detention, detention without charge and lengthy pre-trial detention, violation of privacy rights  including illegal searches; land grabbing, restrictions on academic freedom,  restrictions on freedom of assembly and association, on freedom of expression and movement; alleged interference in religious affairs, violence and discrimination against women, and abuse of children[1];

Realizing that repeated similar reports demonstrate the systematic nature of human rights violations targeting a particular people, and that the Oromo having been the main victim for many years. The Committee for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD), a UN organ, in 1997 stated that “ … military and police forces have been systematically targeting certain ethnic groups, in particular the Anuak and the Oromo peoples, and [further asserting the prevalence of] summary executions, rape of women and girls, arbitrary detention, torture, humiliations and destruction of property and crops of members of those communities”;

Reflecting on Human rights researcher Professor Tronvoll Kjetill ‘s well-founded claim about a systematic flagrance of human rights in Ethiopia. His study asserts that ethnic identity in Ethiopia has political stigma. Based on primary data mined from major human rights organizations and national reports spanning over ten years he has to say, “from 1995 to 2005, the majority of the reported human rights violations in Ethiopia have occurred in the Oromia regional state, [adding that, in all those] years but one, extra-judicial killings and arbitrary arrests have been reported, [and that no] other regional state had such consistently reported human rights violations during this time period”;

Giving consideration to a recent report corroborating these systematic violations; in March 2014, Human Rights Watch‘s report, entitled “They Know Everything We do: Telecom and Internet Surveillance in Ethiopia”, emphasised that the government in its pursuit of restricting the rights of the citizens to “freedom of expression, association, and peaceful assembly, [using repressive laws to] to decimate civil society organizations and independent media, and target individuals with politically motivated prosecutions, particularly the Oromo people, with the ruling party utilising the fear of the ongoing but limited insurgency for political gain;

Remembering the adoption of very aggressive and unpopular laws such as the press proclamation, the Charity and Civic society Proclamation and the Anti-Terrorism proclamation, followed by persistent charges brought against members of the free press and opposition figures;

Noting  the situation regarding human rights, the rule of law, democracy and governance in all countries of the Horn of Africa, which has been of great concern to the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), African Union (AU), European Union (EU) and United Nations (UN) for many years;

Remembering  the credible reports of arbitrary arrests, forced labour, torture and maltreatment of prisoners, as well as persecution of journalists and political repression in the region,

Referring to the Genocide Watch report released on 12th of March 2013, which considered Ethiopia to have already reached Stage 7: genocidal massacres, against many of its peoples, including the Anuak, Ogadeni, Oromo and Omos, and the Amnesty International report of October 2014 that indicated a widespread and systematic repression of the Oromo people[2]. The title of the report itself ‘BECAUSE I AM AN OROMO: Sweeping repression in the Oromia region of Ethiopia’[3],  is cause for special concern, as well as the recorded 61 deaths and 903 wounded of  Oromo students during peaceful protests  in April/May 2014 against  the drafted Addis Ababa Master Plan[4];

Reaffirming the 2014 US State Department Country Report on Human Rights Practices in Ethiopia, which judged that “Prison and pre-trial detention centre conditions remained harsh and in some cases life threatening” and  the deep concern of the UN Committee Against Torture in its 2010 report about “the routine use of torture” by police, prison officers, and other members of the security forces, including the military, against political dissidents and opposition party members, students, alleged terrorists…”. The recorded death of students Nuredin Hassen, Galana Nadhii and Nimona Tilahun after severe torture indicates that no any tendency of improvement in maltreating of the prisoners;

Regretting the continued dominance of the EPRDF in nationwide elections for local and city council positions held in 2013, and in the National Election held in May 2015. EPRDF-affiliated parties won all but five of approximately 3.6 million seats; 33 opposition parties boycotted the elections. The EPRDF also fully controlled and declared a landslide victory of the May 2015 National Election;

Understanding further that in its latest report the Committee to Protect Journalists, based on empirical evidence, put Ethiopia the fourth worst place in the world for journalists and one of  “the 10 most censored countries” and “ the top 10 worst jailers of journalists worldwide”;

Considering that 17 Oromo journalists that have been fired from Oromia Radio and Television Organization (ORTO) since  June 25, 2014;

Proclaiming that despite the adoption of the National Policy on Women (1993) and the National Action Plan on Gender Equality (2006-2010) and some commendable provisions of the National Constitution, discrimination and sexual violence against Oromo women in Ethiopia is still widespread[5], notably so in rural areas;

Emphasising the need to take all necessary measures to ensure any violence against women is prosecuted and punished adequately, and that the victims have immediate means of redress and protection, as per the CEDAW Committee 2004 recommendation, as well as the more general need to ensure that all the CEDAW Committee 2004 recommendations be fully implemented;

Affirming the Human and democratic rights enshrined in the constitution of the Federal Republic of Ethiopia that grants the citizen to freedom;

Fully believing that the international community has a moral duty to encourage the Ethiopian government to stick to its constitution and international bill of rights that it has signed;

Appreciating the human rights groups such as Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, HRLHA, Genocide Watch, OSG, OSGA etc., that operate under significant government restrictions and manage to reach the areas affected by atrocities committed by EPRDF regime, a ruling regime that has remained in power for 25 years by blocking every opportunity to create genuine democracy, and by a blatant disregard for and denial of free and fair elections;

Condemning the boundless human atrocities, such as extrajudicial killings, disappearances, torture, arbitrary arrests of innocent people, prolonged detention without trial, sexual violence, and evictions from land[6] committed by the Ethiopian government;

Expressing its grave concern at the continuing imprisonment of Oromo students, journalists and political leaders, without their having been tried by a court of law, and demanding their immediate release.

 

Therefore, we, the UNPO General Assembly:

Solemnly affirm that the government of Ethiopia is systematically committing  massive human rights violations against the Oromo people Request to ensure that those responsible for killings, beatings, torture and other grave human rights violations be brought to justice. Call upon the Ethiopian government to fully respect human rights and fundamental freedoms, including freedom of association, freedom of expression, freedom of media and freedom of conscience. Call on the EU, UN, AU and all democratic governments to reconsider their approach to Ethiopia, particularly if no progress is made towards compliance with the essential elements of various international agreements, in particular on core human rights issues, such as access to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to visit prisons, the release of the political  prisoners etc. Deplore the unlawful use of lethal force by the government security forces, as well as sexual violence which destabilises the family, and the eviction of the Oromo from their ancestral land, which is designed to uproot these indigenous people. Condemn the ever more frequent attacks of armed forces, police and security agents against peaceful demonstrators. Insist on participation by the European Union and international community in resolving the political problems of the country. Urge the Ethiopian authorities to review the press law, Civil Society Law and Anti-Terrorist proclamation adopted in 2009. Urge the Ethiopian authorities to investigate the allegations of harassment and arbitrary arrests affecting opposition and civil society organisations, and to bring those responsible to trial. Encourage Ethiopian authorities to release Oromo political prisoners languishing in prisons for many years unconditionally. Instruct UNPO’s President to forward this resolution to the Ethiopian government, to the Council, the Commission and Parliament of the EU, to the Pan-African Parliament and the Executive Council of the African Union, to the UN and some democratic governments.

 

 

 

 

To view the full resolution as a PDF, please click here

 

 

 

 

 

 

[1] Human Rights Council Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review Nineteenth session 28 April-9 May 2014

[2] Unsettling patterns of genocidal massacres against Oromo in Oromia, Ethiopia

 (Source: http://oromopress.blogspot.com.au/2013/05/patterns-genocidal-massacres-against.html)

[3] AI Report  AFR 25/006/2014: Ethiopia: ‘Because I am Oromo’: Sweeping repression in the Oromia region of Ethiopia,

[4] Ethiopia: Ethnic Oromos arrested, tortured and killed by the state in relentless repression of dissent http://www.amnesty.org/en/news/ethiopia-ethnic-oromos-arrested-tortured-and-killed-state-relentless-repression-dissent-2014-10#.VE-3EY4gp_U.facebook

[5] Human Rights Council Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review Nineteenth session 28 April-9 May 2014

[6] Ethiopia exports more than coffee: Oromo refugees, fear and destitution in Kenya

Oromia Support Group Report – Dec 2010