September 4, 2006

Oromo: Ethiopia Detains over 250 Oromia Civilians

Ethiopian authorities have arbitrarily detained over 250 civilians from Oromia region in recent days, Amnesty International said.
Ethiopian authorities have arbitrarily detained over 250 civilians from Oromia region in recent days, among those arrested are high secondary school students and at least two elders people over the age of 70, amnesty International said.

According to Amnesty a member of parliament for the opposition Oromo National Congress, Irena Iticha, is also arrested.

The arrests reportedly occurred after students and other civilians protested against the Ethiopian government’s programme of redistribution land to members of the Ethiopian ruling party, the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF).

However, it is feared that the detainees are being targeted because they are members of the Oromo ethnic group. The group has suffered a pattern of human rights abuses at the hands of the authorities.

“The detainees are being held at three locations: Sankele Police Training Centre, Ormat Military site and Ambo Police Station. None of those arrested has been charged, the press release stated.

The Ethiopian government has been engaged in an ongoing conflict with the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) and there have been several incidents in the Oromia region over the past two years which have led to arrests, detentions and sometimes killings and torture.

In November and December 2005, following demonstrations which were largely peaceful, several thousand students and others were detained incommunicado without charge or trial. A few thousand are still believed to be held in different prisons and police stations, with only a few so far brought to court and charged. Several demonstrators were reportedly shot dead by the security forces, and many were allegedly tortured or ill-treated, particularly in Ambo palace prison and Sankele police camp.

In January 2006, further anti-government protests led to the arrest of several thousands students. Several demonstrators were also reportedly shot dead and others wounded by the security forces. Many protesters were beaten by police. Some detainees were released, but the whereabouts of many of the others, some taken to remote rural prisons, are not known.

More information can be found at: http://web.amnesty.org/library/Index/ENGAFR250252006