May 22, 2015

Oromo: Human Rights Violations in Ethiopia and the Plight of the Oromo

On 18 April 2015, the Hawaasa Oromoo Association in the Netherlands organized a conference in Amersfoort, the Netherlands, on the occasion of the Oromo Human Rights Day. This well attended conference focused on the continuing human rights violations in Ethiopia and the plight of the Oromo People. UNPO was invited to address the conference and through a discussion with the audience inform them on the workings of the various human rights mechanisms.


The Oromo community in the Netherlands organized the Oromo Human Rights Day on the 18th of April 2015 where the cultural and political life of the Oromo in the Netherlands as well as back in Oromo was celebrated. A fully packed program provided the audience with diverse speakers and cultural performers. Oromo poems and songs originating from a rich and flowering cultural tradition were performed by well-known Oromo personalities. The audience fully engaged with these performances on an emotional level. Despite these positive displays of a shared Oromo past and present, there was also room for the hardships that the Oromo people and specific individuals who advocate the human rights of the Oromo face. Several speakers provided the public with a graphic and detailed account of their hardships. For instance, one of the speakers explained about his years in Ethiopian prison for his human rights advocacy on behalf of the Oromo people. Another speaker discussed his life as a human rights activist and political actor in Ethiopia as well as his life as a political refugee in Europe. These various perspectives provided an insight into the current situation of the Oromo people.

UNPO was invited as a key note speaker to discuss the human rights situation in Ethiopia and the options for the Oromo community to advocate better for their human rights. Mr Jeroen Zandberg, UNPO Treasurer, and Erasmia Giannoudaki attended the conference on behalf of UNPO. UNPO’s contribution to the conference consisted of a lecture on the history of human rights since the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the general situation concerning the international status of human rights treaties and United Nations committees. This was complemented by specific examples of UNPO’s international activities in the United Nations, the European Parliament, the US Congress and other political bodies on behalf of the Oromo community.

A lively question and answer session followed the presentation and provided both UNPO and the participants of the conference a confirmation of the necessity of continued advocacy for a world free of human rights violations.