March 12, 2006

Oromo: WS on Human Rights Violation in Oromia

Written Statement by the IFPRERLOM expresses concern regarding reports of extrajudicial killings in Oromia, Ethiopia
COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS
Sixty-second session
Item 9 of the provisional agenda

QUESTION OF THE VIOLATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS AND FUNDAMENTAL
FREEDOMS IN ANY PART OF THE WORLD

Written statement* submitted by the International Federation for the Protection of the Rights of Ethnic, Religious, Linguistic and Other Minorities (IFPRERLOM),
a non-governmental organization on the Roster

The Secretary-General has received the following written statement which is circulated in
accordance with Economic and Social Council resolution 1996/31.

[13 February 2006]

* This written statement is issued, unedited, in the language(s) received from the submitting non-governmental organization(s).

Oromia, Ethiopia
IFPRERLOM wishes to express concern regarding reports of extrajudicial killings of Oromo Students in Oromia, Ethiopia.

Whereas the ruling coalition party led by the Tigrean Peoples Liberation Front (TPLF) is alleged to be committing unparalleled human rights violations against the Oromo people, this statement deals mainly with the portion of extra-judicial killings of Oromo students that have been reported.

Ethiopia has been in a state of unrest since the May 2005 National Elections, and on 9 November 2005, a popular uprising of Oromo Students began at Ambo and spread all over Oromia.1 These peaceful demonstrations, were held at regional and national levels against the New Education Policy, the Taxation and Agricultural Policy, the unfair and politically biased distribution of fertilizers, the banning of Oromo civic organisations (Human Rights League, Oromo Relief Association, Metcha-Tulama Self-Help Association), the transfer of the capital city of the regional state of Oromia from Finfinne (Addis Ababa) to Adama (Nazareth) and the systematic sidelining of genuine political organisations such as Oromo Liberation Front (OLF), Ogaden National Liberation Front, Sidama Liberation Front, Benishangul People Liberation Movement, among others by ruling party in May 2005 national election. They have continued to demand freedom of the press and the release of political prisoners.

The following is a list of alleged extra-judicial killings that have been reported: On 9 November 2005 the police killed three Oromo students (Jaagamaa Badhaanee (from Ambo 06, grade 11 student); Kabbadaa Badhaasaa (from Tiukur Inchinnii, grade 11 student) and an unidentified female student) and wounded 17 in Ambo town. On 12 November 2005, a 10th grade student Lachiisaa Fullaasaa was killed at Muka Turii High School. On 16 November 2005, Dabalaa Oliiqaa Guutaa and Malaakuu Tarfaa Fayisaa, of Kofale High School in Arsi, were killed by TPLF/ Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) cadres. Eleni Kitessa (female), student of grade 9 was severely wounded. On 28 November 2005, students Habtamuu Bayyataa Biqilaa and Fiqaaduu were killed in Jalduu town (W.Shewa), Katamaa Xaafaa and Nuuressaa Girmaa were severely wounded, and later died in Ambo Hospital. In December 2005 Alemayehu Gerba (Gemta Gerba), a handicapped Addis Ababa University student was shot dead in Akaki (Haqaaqii) prison, a small town just south of Finfinne (Addis Ababa). On 20 December 2005, the TPLF is reported to have killed three students in Qiltu Karaa, Western Oromia.

Five more students were seriously injured and taken to Aayiraa Hospital, one of these was later reported to have died. On 24 January 2006, student Hayile Desta was killed by the state militia at Abbaya Chomman sub district, at the town of Finca’aa. A recent report by Human Rights Watch, compiled after visits to Ethiopia, including Oromia, states that “the Ethiopian government is using intimidation, arbitrary detentions and excessive force in rural areas of Ethiopia to suppress post-election protests and all potential dissent.”2

Recalling that between 1992 and 1994, tens of thousands of Oromos were subjected to mass arrests and imprisonment; and an unknown number of the detainees extra-judicially killed; IFPRERLOM is gravely concerned about current development in Oromia.

The organization calls upon the Ethiopian Government to respect the International Covenants and Conventions to which it is a signatory as well as its own constitution: Article 15 ‘The Right of Life’; Article 16 ‘The Right of the Security of a Person’; Article 17 ‘Right of Liberty’; Article 18 ‘Prohibition Against Inhuman Treatment’; Article 19 ‘Right of a Person Arrested’; Article 20 of a person accused; and Article 21 concerning a person held in custody. Articles 29 to 44 also protect students’ and individuals’ democratic rights. Denial of the above constitutes a violation of Article 6 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, (ICCPR) which Ethiopia ratified in 1993. It is also a violation of Articles 1, 2 and 3 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Cabinda, Angola
The human rights situation in Cabinda is characterised by a heavy army presence, following the earlier military offensives launched by the Government. The army presence is extended to all localities and is largely interpreted as having the intent to control and intimidate the population. The Angolan Government has done little to address the resulting human rights violations, which have been compiled in several reports, produced by the civil society association Mpalabanda.

The report of Hina Jilani, Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Human Rights Defenders, 21 February 2005, states that representatives of state prosecution and judiciary in Cabinda claimed they had not received any cases of human rights abuses and merely alluded to instances of “overzealous” action by the police. The report concludes that either the judiciary does not receive the cases or chooses not to address them.3

Harassment and intimidation in the territory continue on a daily basis. A strong contingent of “anti-riot” police is present in the capital and has been used to prevent civil society meetings and initiatives. The anniversary of the treaties signed between Portugal and Cabinda are always a time of particular tension. On the anniversary of the Treaty of Chinfuno, a visit to the monument commemorating the treaty was marred by police intervention. Twenty five people were detained, Anselmo Conde Nzau, deputy secretary of Mpalabanda, was beaten by police officers. Mpalabanda’s conference during human rights day was similarly forbidden. On 10 December 2005, fifty youths who went to the conference at Landana, were surrounded by police and military and temporarily detained.

Six members of Mpalabanda were criminally prosecuted; the court absolved them of any wrongdoing.

A march for peace programmed for the 29 January 2006, to commemorate anniversary of the Treaty of Simulambuco was banned. The houses of the main Mpalabanda activists were surrounded by police and riot police were stationed throughout the capital. Two days earlier, on 27 January, Angolan soldiers opened fire on a truck, killing Elisée Khonde Muanda, who was eight months pregnant and wounding another youth, Paulo Conde. This act was preceded on 2 January by the killing of Francisco Banheva, 40 years, old from Mbucu-Chivava. He was working on his land in Mbata-Missinga when he was surprised by a group of soldiers who beat him to death. He had been working on a Monday; a curfew had been imposed in the area whereby people are only allowed to go to their work in the fields on Tuesdays and Fridays.

Concerned at recent development in Cabinda and Oromia, and alarmed by rising levels of violence, IFPRERLOM calls upon the Commission on Human Rights

to condemn the use of lethal force by security forces of the government;

to ensure that all extra-judicial acts of killings be investigated thoroughly and impartially

by an independent international body in accordance with international standards;

to put pressure on the government of Ethiopia and Angola to stop ongoing human rights
violations; and

to request standing invitations of the Commissions thematic mandates to visit the regions in question.

Khuzestan, Iran
Finally, IFPRERLOM wishes to highlight the situation for the indigenous Ahwazi Arabs in the province of Khuzestan in the Islamic Republic of Iran.

The UN Commission on Human Rights Special Rapporteur (SR) on Adequate Housing, Mr. Miloon Kothari, in his report following the mission to visit Iran from 19 to 31 July 2005, identified as a key concern that there is “disproportionably adverse housing and living conditions of ethnic and religious minorities (Kurds, Bahais, Arabs and Laks) and groups like the Nomads.” The SR recommends that the Government of Iran focus especially on historically marginalized provinces such as Khuzestan and Sistan-Baluchestan and reinforces, expand and implement policies aimed ethnic and religious minorities in vulnerable situations, including the Kurds and the Arabs.4

At the end of his mission, Mr. Kothari spoke to IRIN in Tehran on 9 Aug 2005 about his preliminary findings: “When you visit Ahwaz there are thousands of people living with open sewers, no sanitation, no regular access to water, electricity and no gas connections”5

Mr. Kothari further stated; “[I]n Khuzestan […] we visited the areas where large development projects are coming up, sugar cane plantations and other projects along the river, and the estimate we received is that between 200,000 - 250,000 Arab people are being displaced from their villages because of these projects.” The SR also noted that in Khuzestan “large development projects, like petrochemical plants, are being built leading to the displacement of entire villages - with thousands of people not consulted on the projects, informed of the impending displacement, nor offered adequate resettlement and compensation,” and added “[…] the compensation being offered to the Arab villagers who were being displaced is sometimes one fortieth of the market value - and there is nothing they can do about it. It's a fait accompli.” 6

IFPRERLOM appeals to the Commission on Human Rights to urge the government of Iran to

to follow up on the recommendation made by the UN Special Rapporteur on Housing Rights; and

to provide adequate compensation, support and consultancy with indigenous populations affected by development projects, whilst promoting and protecting the rights of minorities in Iran.


1 http://hrw.org/english/docs/2005/06/15/ethiop11124.htm
2 http://hrw.org/english/docs/2006/01/12/ethiop12417.htm
3
http://daccessdds.un.org/doc/UNDOC/GEN/G05/110/96/PDF/G0511096.pdf?OpenElemen
t
4 http://www.unhchr.ch/huricane/huricane.nsf/view01/C5FDB550512C6025C1257057004F873A?opendocument
5 www.irinnews.org/print.asp?ReportID=48518
6 www.irinnews.org/print.asp?ReportID=48518

Source: United Nations Commission on Human Right (UNCHR)