January 23, 2006

Oromo: Uprising Nearing Three Months

The Oromo people have continued the popular uprising that started on Nov. 9, 2005 in protest to the Ethiopian regimes gross violation of fundamental human rights

The Oromo people have continued the popular uprising that started on Nov. 9, 2005 in protest to the Ethiopian regime’s gross violation of fundamental human rights. To date we have issued four reports detailing the atrocities perpetuated against peaceful demonstrators by the government. This fifth one is an update on the continued suppression of human rights, the basic freedom of the Oromo and other peoples of Ethiopia, and the ruthless measures Meles’ government is taking to stifle the popular uprising.

The underlying popular demands of the people remain the same: respect for human dignity and basic freedom, equality in the court of law, rights to self determination, release of all Oromo political prisoners, reinstatement of the Mecha Tullama self help Association, legalization of Oromo Relief Association, and etc. The people have acknowledged the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) as the sole representative of the Oromo people. They have demonstrated their support for the OLF in many parts of the country by replacing government banners by that of the OLF. Typical slogans read “OLF means Oromo and Oromo means OLF”. Such wide spread support for the OLF has invoked even more brutal reaction from the government. Summary and indiscriminate executions, torture, abductions, and unlawful imprisonment of peaceful people have become all too common. According to the Human Right Watch (HRW) report of January 13, 2006, intimidation and arbitrary detention of the Oromo people have intensified in rural areas.

High school and college students continue to join the popular uprising in increasing numbers. They have drawn attention to their demands by distributing pamphlets, staging hunger strike, and shaving their hair as a sign of mourning for peers killed by government agents. In areas where such protests have intensified, the government has closed schools in fear of further demonstrations. Daily demonstrations and strikes are going on all over Oromia including in Ambo, Xiqur-Incinni, Dambi Dollo, Gimbii, Qoree, Biyyoo-Karaabaa, Asasaa, Kofale, Qoree, Geedoo, Baakkoo, Sarboo, Shashamannee, Kofalee, Adama, Asaasa, Shaambuu, Naqamte, Laaloo Asabii, Jimma, Machaaraa, Finci’a, Kombolcha, Xuullo, Dhangaggoo, Ciro, East Showa, Oliqaa Dingiluu, Qeellam, Haro Maaya, Dobba, Ginir, Habroo, Mattuufi Daarimu, Dirree Dawa, Geedoo, Galamsoo, Baddeessaa, Asaboot, Baddannoo, Mi’esso, Bordodde, Mandii, Daaroo Labuu, Gaadullo, Gololchaa, Calanqoo, Awwadaay, Baatee, Kaarra-Mille, haramaaya, Harar, Qobboo, Laangeey, Masala, Awash, Dhedheessaa, Guttiin, Haro Sabbuu and Gibee.

Student demonstrations and strikes have spread to other parts of Ethiopia including the Amhara regions of Gondar and Gojam. The government has arrested thousands of students and several teachers in many of the educational establishments. Some are killed during indiscriminate shootings.

Large contingents of the Ethiopian Special Forces have been stationed in Oromia since the beginning of the ongoing popular uprising. Reports that reached us since our last update indicate that the Ethiopian government has increased the presence of these Special Forces including the police, particularly in areas where demonstrations continue as a daily phenomenon. The forces have been ordered to control the uprising at all cost. These forces are indeed responsible for the abduction, torture, and killing of several innocent individuals. In addition to those killed during the preceding months and reported in our previous communiqué, 14 Oromos have been killed during the last one-month by TPLF agents in different parts of Oromia. We have also documented the abduction of 51 civilians and the torture of 109 students from Finci’a, Galamsoo, Mandii, Aradda Biliqa, Ciro, and Asaasa. Many have sustained major bodily injuries. The HRW in its press release of Jan 13, 2006 has reported about the torture of several Oromos, allegedly for supporting or sympathizing with the OLF.

The Ethiopian government has also detained thousands of elementary school children, and elders, – in many instances for the mere reason of wearing traditional Oromo clothes. Most of the people detained are in rural areas, far from the eyes of the international community and journalists. The rural population of Oromia is truly under a collective punishment. The HRW (see press release of January 13, 2006) has stated that Oromos are randomly picked at a bus checkpoint and detained. It is difficult to obtain accurate information on the number of detainees. Some reports reaching us from Oromia have suggested it could be in the tens of thousands.

Over the years, the OLF has registered and alerted the international community about the seriousness of this growing tension between the peoples of Ethiopia and the dictatorial government of Meles Zenawi, the Tigrean minority ruling class in particular. We have observed the rising brutality of the government and the alarming deterioration of the rule of law, which could rapidly culminate into a serious political chaos enticing anarchy and mass massacre. Once again, we call upon all concerned governments, the United States of America, the European Union, the UN, and other government and non-government agencies to stop supporting the Meles regime and take a swift action to thwart this looming tragedy.

Source: Sudan Tribune