November 27, 2008

Oromo: Arrests Target Critics of Zenawi’s Regime

Sample ImageWaves of arrests continue in Ethiopia as the authorities accuse their critics of membership of the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) 

Below is an article published by the Union of Oromo Students in Europe (Belgium): 

Once again, prominent members of Oromo civil society – politicians, university lecturers, businessmen, lawyers and other professional people – have been arrested under the pretext of supporting the Oromo Liberation Front {OLF}.  

As in similar waves of detention of Oromo civilians in 1997-8, 2002 and 2004, their only crime has been to be critical of government policies against Oromo people and to refuse to join the government Oromo party, the OPDO (Oromo People's Democratic Organization). As in previous large-scale arrests of prominent members of Oromo civil society, Ethiopian Television has reported that weapons were found during forced searches of the homes of the accused. 

Most of those who were detained and tortured during the previous large scale detentions were released after up to three years imprisonment, without ever being presented with any evidence to support allegations of ‘terrorism’ and involvement with the OLF. 

Arrests and house searches in Addis Ababa and across Oromia Region began on 29 October [2008] and have continued at least until 10 November [2008]. Detainees have been taken to Maikelawi Central Investigation Department, notorious for the torture and detention without trial of political opponents to the regime. 

At least 100 have been arrested, including: 

Mrs. Aberash Yadeta 

Mrs. Asada Imana 

Mr. Asafa Tefera Dibaba - Lecturer in Oromo language, Addis Ababa University 

Mr. Banti Bula - High school student 

Mr. Bayisa Lata - Addis Ababa University student 

Mr. Bekele Jirata - General Secretary of the Oromo Federalist Democratic Movement (OFDM) party, an employee of Oromia Water Resources 

Mr. Bekele Negeri 

Mr. Belay Korme - Pharmacist, Nekemte Hospital 

Mr. Bulti Jalata - OFDM member 

Mr. Chalsissa Abdissa 

Mrs. Chaltu Takala 

Mr. Eshetu Kitil - Businessman and owner of the Hawi Hotel, Addis Ababa 

Mr. Desta Kitil - Businessman, brother of Mr. Eshetu Kitil 

Mr. Dejene Dhaba - Trader 

Mr. Kebede Borena - Senior Manager of Hilton Hotel, Addis Ababa 

Mr. Dereje Borena - Brother of Mr. Kebede Borena 

Mrs. Diribe (Bontu) Ittana 

Mr. Diribsa Legesse 

Mr. Fikadu Jalqaba - University/college student 

Mr. Getahun - University student 

Mr. Gudata Dabale - High School Teacher and Director of Finance of the Macha-Tulama Association (an Oromo welfare and self-help organisation) 

Mr. Imiru Gurmessa - Businessman 

Mr. Jara Ebissa - High school student 

Mr. Kebebew Feyee  

Mr. Kebede Bulti - Businessman 

Ms. Lalisee Dhiphisaa - Staff member of the recently closed Oromo program on Ethiopian Television 

Mrs. Lelise Wodajo - Journalist and wife of exiled television journalist Dhabasa Wakjira, himself a former detainee. There are concerns about the care of their three young children. 

Mr. Namomsa Warqina - School teacher 

Mr. Nigusie Dhaba 

Mr. Qajela Abdata - OFDM member 

Mr. Roba Gadafa - Employee of Hibret Insurance Company 

Mr. Shumi Dandana - High School student 

Mr. Tokkon Mardasaa - OFDM member 

Mr. Girma Ababa & Mrs. Urge Ababa, and child 

Mr. Dargu - Brother of Mrs. Urge Ababa 

Mr. Wabe Haji - Lawyer with Commercial Bank of Ethiopia. 

Mr. Worqina - School teacher 

Mr. Zerihun Wadajo - Famous Oromo singer  

Sources:

Dr. Trevor Trueman (Oromia Support Group, UK);

Dr. Getachew Jigi Demeksa (Oromo Parliamentarians Council) 

Other reports are from Oromo Menschenrechts und Hilfsorganisation and Human Rights League in Horn of Africa.