Oromo: Demonstration in US Against Ethiopia’s Regime
According to VOA’s Horn of African Service, Oromo youth from schools and colleges around the United States, some dressed in traditional clothes, stood in the rain outside the U.S. Capitol to protest against the Meles regime on Monday - April 20, 2009.
They called for world leaders and the international media to urge the Ethiopian government to stop killing, harassing and detaining Oromo children, students, intellectuals and farmers in Oromia and neighboring countries.
Their protest was organized by the International Oromo Youth Association (IOYA), an umbrella for Oromo youth associations and student unions around the world. Meanwhile, the Ethiopian Embassy in Washington declined to comment on the youth’s peaceful demonstration.
The ever increasing repression of Oromos and other people in Ethiopia has become a big concern for Oromo youth across the globe. The disturbing news that rarely gets reported by international media is a daily occurrence for the Oromo mass in Ethiopia and neighboring countries - which compelled us to get up and march in hopes of bringing public awareness to the alarming human rights violations in Ethiopia. As recent as March 5, 2009, the Ethiopian government brutally beat many Oromo students and arrested over 80 of them from Bahir Dar University merely for asking certain individuals be brought to justice for their derogatory remarks towards Oromia and Oromos as well.
In the past year  alone, hundreds of innocent civilians including college students, business people, farmers, teachers and other professionals have been arrested without any warrant, detained without bail, tortured and extra-judicially killed. The arbitrary arrests did not spare even nursing women and the elderly. While the Ethiopian government is amassing millions of dollars from international donors, more than ten percent of the population is on the brink of starvation and millions of children are severely malnourished. The government has been hiding this grave situation that has been dubbed by many ‘a green famine.’ Lack of good governance and corruption of almost all government officials are the culprits for this humanitarian crisis.
To make matters worse, the Ethiopian government has been actively involved in obstruction of food distribution and other humanitarian assistance. Fleeing horrific war, grinding poverty, famine and exclusion from health care, Oromo migrants are forced to take in search of a better life in neighboring countries. While putting their lives in the hands of often brutal human smugglers, it is a known fact that many do not make it alive.
International human rights watchdog groups have accused the Ethiopian government with war crimes and crimes against humanity for the inhuman crimes they committed in the southern and south eastern part of the country. With pretext of fighting rebels, innocent civilians are forcefully displaced from their communities or face execution. Their houses are burned down, their livestock confiscated, women raped and their whole community is ravaged by bloodshed. This is just the glimpse of what is happening in this forsaken part of the world.
For fear that the government officials would be exposed for these heinous crimes; they recently enacted a legislation that restricts the work of independent human rights defenders and civil rights organizations. International human rights organizations, such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, have strongly condemned the new Charities and Societies Proclamation that criminalize human rights activities. This law is accompanied by another draconian media law that restricts press freedom and strips away the right of the public for free information. Whoever speaks out against the undemocratic Ethiopian government is silenced by arrest and, in some cases, by execution. Many opposition political party leaders have been imprisoned and their supporters are being harassed and intimidated on a daily basis. Many analysts are saying the political space is narrowing even tighter and any kind of dissent is met severe punishments.