April 10, 2006
The Oromo Liberation Front ( OLF) has issued several press releases and communiqués since November 2005 regarding the brutal repression of the Oromo people by the Ethiopian government. As these repressions intensify with increased popular protest and demand, the Ethiopian government is responding in its usual way of wanton arrests, torture, and killing of civilians, specifically the youth.
Despite the brutal repressive act of the government, the Oromos are continuing to reveal firm reliance and fortitude demanding:
Respect for human dignity and basic freedom, Justice through an impartial court of law, Right to self-determination enshrined in the Ethiopian constitution and international law Release of all political prisoners, Reinstatement of the Mecha Tullama self-help Association, and Addressing the grievances of the Oromo people through a peaceful political means, and more.
The OLF believes these are legitimate demands, and shares these desires of the Oromo people. This is why the OLF remains in the hearts and minds of the people. Demonstrators throughout Oromia have manifested the love for the OLF. For example, The Oromo people have unequivocally expressed to the government cadres that OLF is their only vanguard organization. In most parts of the country this has been manifested by demonstrators through burning of government flags and raising the OLF flag. In fact, there were instances where the OLF flag was raised in front of government offices and schools for days, protected by the people, until government soldiers forcefully removed it.
Today, as a result of continued demonstrations, most schools in Oromia remain closed by the government. There are also reports that in those areas where schools are open, government cadres are abducting students from their schools. The Ethiopian government is doing every thing to demoralize the Oromo youth. Young students of leadership quality are especially targeted.
There are also substantial evidences that Oromo farmers and traders are participating in economic boycott. These measures have forced the government to take drastic measures against a well-coordinated popular demonstration. Oromos are refusing participation in the economy of the country, farmers are not selling their produce and merchants are not exporting to cities, etc. The pressure on pro-government employees is rising. For example, security personnel are changing their car plate numbers from government codes, starting with 4, to private and business numbers starting with 2 and 3 to hide from Oromo protesters. Those who have participated in harming Oromo peaceful protesters are so scared that they are seeking additional government protection.
The rising protests have been met by increased brutality from the government. Since February there are 203 Oromos that have been slaughtered in broad daylight. The killing of three and wounding of 30 Alemaya University students and the killings of six demonstrators in Siraaro, Arsi are examples of these growing atrocities.
Reports reaching us confirm that government agents from different parts of Oromia have kidnapped 617 Oromos recently, and their whereabouts are still unknown. The total number of Oromos in detention is in the thousands. People are randomly picked from their residence and work places for no other reason than being an Oromo and suspected of participating in the popular uprising. Many of the detainees are school children including those as young as ten years old. Many of these detainees have also sustained serious bodily injuries including broken bones from beatings and tortures during interrogations. There are many cases where detainees have lost part of their body such as an eye, teeth, leg and an arm either through beating by rifle butt or live ammunition. Detainees are often left to suffocate in small prison cells and often exposed to diseases. For this mal-treatment, prisoners of Makelawi have been on hunger strike since last week.
There are also instances where civilian homes have been searched by security agents and their properties and belongings confiscated illegally, under the pretext that they supporters the OLF. In some of the homes, the security agents had raped women. The government agents planted the recent explosives in Finfinne/Addis Abeba to create a pretext to search and harass civilians.
As in the past, we would like to inform all concerned governments and non-government agencies and the international community at large that the indiscriminate killings, harassments and detention of school children, youth, and elders by the Ethiopian government, if not halted, will lead the country into crisis and destruction. We, therefore, once again, call upon the United States of America, the African Union, the European Union, the UN, and other concerned bodies to exert their influence on the Ethiopian government, to stop its atrocious acts on the Oromo and other peoples in Ethiopia, and swiftly seek a comprehensive political solution to thwart the serious danger looming over Ethiopia.