March 20, 2006
Irrespective of the mode of struggle the demands of Oromo people remain the same: respect for humanity and basic freedoms, justice through an impartial court of law, implementing the right to self-determination, the release of all political prisoners, the reinstatement of the Mecha-Tullama self-help Association, unambiguous support to OLF (their vanguard organization) and addressing the grievances of the Oromo people through a peaceful political means rather than through repression. However, the government is becoming more aggressive towards the peaceful demonstrators showing its frustration and incapability to administer the Oromo people and others in Ethiopia. Particularly, the renewed protest of the Oromo people in a more coordinated and systematic approach created a huge panic among the local government cadres. At the moment most of the schools in Oromia are closed in fear of more protest.
The new strategy used by the Oromo people is to withhold their entire agricultural and other resources from local markets. This freshly coordinated remonstration in parallel to the street protest has been taking place in many regions of Oromia. The government agents who have understood the tremendous economic impact of such a protest are trying their best to bribe some Oromos. In most of the meetings that are organized by force, the people either ask questions that the cadres do not want to hear/answer. In some instances the people left the meeting hall just after the arrival of the government appointees. There were also cases where protesters from the meeting burned both the federal and OPDO flags and replaced it with OLF flag and banner. There are also reports that disagreements are brewing among OPDO cadres regarding the response to the people’s request.
The government, panicked by the continued determination and the ever escalating protest of Oromo people, retort to the peaceful people in its usual way of indiscriminate killing, torture, harassment, detention, and rape. Since the last report 91 people have been massacred while 292 disappeared from different parts of Oromia. Reliable sources have also confirmed that tens of thousands have been detained and interrogated by security agents while most of them sustained serious physical injuries from the torture during interrogation. In some places women are arrested in mass with a pretext that their men are members or supporters of OLF who organized the protests. We have received reports that all of these women are gang-raped by military forces at the detention camps. On the other hand intelligence coming from home also indicated that the security forces are intimidating the detainees to join the OPDO and expose operation cells of OLF that have engulfed the whole region of Oromia. Irrespective of the harsh measures taken by the security agents to recruit members, the response given by the people is one and the same: Only OLF is legitimate in Oromia.
At this time when millions of people are dying from hunger and HIV/AIDS; and children are suffering from malnutrition and absence of basic vaccination, the Ethiopian government is diverting donors money to buy huge military hardware and importing through the port of Djibouti. Reports indicate that within the month of February alone more than 30 heavy weight trucks loaded with military equipments have been spotted on their way to one of the military warehouses in eastern Oromia.
Not heeding to the repeated call from Amnesty International, Human Right Watch and other human right groups, the Ethiopian government continued to indiscriminately kill, torture and haphazardly abduct peaceful protesters. We urge the international community to put necessary pressure on the Meles regime to end the tragedy going on in Oromia in particular and Ethiopia in general. We, call upon all concerned, the United States of America, the European Union, the African Union, the UN, and other government and non-governmental agencies to stop supporting the dictatorial regime and rather swiftly seek a comprehensive political solution to thwart the growing tension between the peoples and the regime in Ethiopia.
Victory to the Oromo People!
March 14, 2006
External Information Division
Foreign Relations Department
Oromo Liberation Front