November 6, 2008

Oromo: A New Alibi For Government Clampdowns?

Sample ImageNew claims are emerging that instability in the Horn of Africa is being used by Addis Ababa to arrest and detain members of the Oromo opposition. 

Below is an article published by the Sudan Tribune: 

Following last week’s arrest of its leader, the Oromo Federalist Democratic Movement’s (OFDM) chairman on Wednesday [5 November 2008] has accused the Ethiopian government of waging a mass arrest against ethnic-Oromo opposition supporters in Addis Ababa using what it says “terror plot and terror links” as a cover. 

"Today we have confirmed the arrest of at least 15 ethnic Oromo opposition supporters during the past 48 hours alone in the capital using the so called terror links and terror plot as a cover," OFDM chairman and MP Bulcha Demeksa told Sudan Tribune by telephone. 

"I am sure this number will be at least in dozens over the night when our assessment continues by tomorrow," he added. 

Ethiopian authorities warned Wednesday of a possible plot to carry out terrorist acts in the country. "The National Intelligence Security Service has received credible information about an impending terrorist plot to be carried out inside Ethiopia," police said in a statement. 

A series of bomb blasts have rocked the Ethiopian capital this year. Four people were killed and other 24 injured last September [2007], when a bomb explosion inside a bar in Addis Ababa; and in May, a bomb went off on a minibus near the foreign ministry, killing six people, including a US national. 

Ethiopia routinely accuses the neighbouring Eritrea along with Oromo and Ogaden rebel movements. 

The opposition chief said that Meles Zinawi is exploiting "terror plot" as "modern cover" to continue indefinitely the large scale abuses against the constitutional rights of the Oromo nationals. 

"It is also being used as a weapon to silence the Oromo people for fears that the Oromo majority could dominate the political roles of the nation," he further said. 

When asked if last weeks arrest against OFDM’s general secretary, Bekelle Jirata, has for sure connections with terrorists as government’s allegation is saying, Bulcha said 

"I am more than 100 % sure that there is no way he has links to terrorists. He is an absolute gentleman" he said 

"Bereket Simons (special adviser to PM Meles) allegation was so shameful and a total fabrication" he rejects. 

“We call to the international community to run a separate investigation” he added 

“It has been 6 days since our member is arrested by government and according to Ethiopian law he was supposed to come before court in 48 hours but this didn’t happen” 

“He is also deprived of seeing his lawyer and his family. What else could clearly prove you that constitutional rights of citizens are openly being violated by government itself other than this?” Bulcha replies the question by a question.