Dec 15, 2015

Oromo: HRLHA and SNLF Statements Report Regional State Under Siege

Photo courtesy of Mohammed Ademo/Al Jazeera/AMA

On 15 December 2015, the Human Rights League of the Horn of Africa (HRLHA), an apolitical organization, which aims to challenge human rights abuses of various nations and nationalities in the Horn of Africa, and the Sidama National Liberation Front (SNLF) released statements outlining the ongoing crackdown against protesters in different parts of the regional state of Oromia. Highlighting the violence and brutality of the governmental special police forces towards the citizens of Oromia, the two statements provide a clearer picture of how and how many Oromo students and protesters have been killed since 14 November 2015 protests. UNPO calls on the European Union and the United Nations to take a stand condemning the ongoing repressive policy conducted by the central government in the Oromia regional state. 

Below is the press statement published by Human Rights League Of the Horn of Africa (HRLHA):

15 December, 2015

The brutal crackdown against Oromo protesters by the Agazi Special Squad and Liyu Police (literally special police) continues unabated in different parts of the regional state of Oromia. Reports coming from all around Oromia Regional State indicate that Oromia Regional State is already under Command post. 

According to information obtained by HRLHA (today) from its correspondents, the Agazi Special Squad has been deployed in Jaldu district, west Shewa with heavily armed vehicles and security forces engaged in indiscriminately killing and kidnapping the local people from the streets and throwing them into detention centres in the area.

Although the protests against the government’s plan to annex some central small towns of Oromia into the Capital Addis Ababa/Finfinne have involved Oromos from all walks of life, age and gender, the prime targets have been children and youth, farmers, university, college, and high school students in particular.

Among the many massacred, the HRLHA has received the following names: Partial List of killed Oromos since protested on 14, November 2015 to present.

Since the protest started in different parts of the regional state of Oromia two weeks ago, more than 10,000 Oromos have been arrested and detained from the following areas:

West Shewa: Ambo, Gudar, Bako,Ginci, Gindabarat, Jaldu,Skukutee, Xiqur Incini, Gindo, Kachise, Gedo, Babichi

North Shewa: Kuyyuu, Gabra Gurrachaa, Muka Xurii, Salalee

Southwest Shewa: Waliso, Wanci, Roggee, Ammayyaa

West Wallagaa: Najo, Mandi, Manasibu, Gimbii, Ganjii, Inago, Ayra Guliso, Jarso, Laaloo Asaabii, Qellem Wallagaa: Jimmaa Horro, Sayyoo, Dambi Dolo, Anfillo, Gidaamii, Begii

Horro Guduru: Fincha 

Arsi: Dodolaa

Bale: Robe, Goba

East Harargeh: Furda, Bedeno, Qarsaa, Awadayi

West Harageh: Asabot, Qarsa

Iluababor: Mattuu, Bure 

Universities: Wallaga, Haromaya, Asalaa, Adama, Jima, Jijiga, Hawasaa

Ever since the violence against Oromo protesters started two weeks ago, and following the release of its first urgent action statement over the incidents, the Human Rights League of the Horn of Africa (HRLHA) has been monitoring the situation through its correspondents in the region. It has been able to obtain some of the names of the Oromos (students and others) who have so far been killed, kidnapped or arrested, and detained or disappeared. There are also cases of beatings and wounds or injuries inflicted on some of the protesters by the heavy-handed federal armed force.

The Human Rights League of the Horn of Africa (HRLHA) strongly believes that the Ethiopian Government’s cruel actions against humanity, against its own citizens, are purely genocide. HRLHA would like to express its deep concerns that, given the situations witnessed in the past seven days, more human casualties could take place; and, therefore, calls for unconditional interference by the world communities in order that such extreme brutalities be halted before inflicting further losses of lives and other human damages.

The HRLHA is a non-political organization that attempts to challenge abuses of human rights of the people of various nations and nationalities in the Horn of Africa. It works to defend fundamental human rights, including freedoms of thought, expression, movement and association. It also works to raise the awareness of individuals about their own basic human rights and those of others. It encourages respect for laws and due process. It promotes the growth and development of free and vigorous civil societies. 

To read the HRLHA report in its original version, please find it in the folder attached to this article.


Below is the second statement, released by the SNLF: 

Since end of November 2015, the Oromo high school and university students and wider Oromo civilians across the Oromia region have staged peaceful protests against the Finfinnee “Master Plan” that will incorporate the city and the surrounding areas in the Oromia region inhabited by the Oromo farmers. The students, the Oromo people, and local Oromo opposition political parties condemn the “Master Plan” as a plan for a land grab that will lead to displacement of millions of the Oromo farmers plunging them into poverty and destitution. The Oromo people claim that hundreds of farmers have already been displaced by the scrupulous development plans that have no regard to the indigenous Oromo inhabitants surrounding the city. 

Peaceful protests by high school and university students and wider Oromo civilians in the Oromia region who are echoing legitimate grievances against the illegal evictions of the Oromo farmers are being met with extraordinary violence and brutality by the Ethiopian federal police, military and security forces. According to the latest reports over 45 peacefully protesting high school and university students and civilians have been killed across the Oromia region so far. Several hundreds have been wounded and thousands have been extra-judiciary arrested. Article 30 sub article (1) of the Constitution of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia states that “Everyone has the right to assemble and to demonstrate together with others peaceably and unarmed, and to petition.” In a clear contravention to the supreme law of the land, the security forces continue to unleash massive violence against peaceful and unarmed civilians expressing their democratic right to denounce unfair treatments of the most vulnerable sections of their society. We condemn in the strongest possible terms the massacre of over 45 peaceful Oromo students and civilians protesting against the illegal eviction of their farmers and any future use of force against the civilians.

The Oromo nation is the single largest nation in Ethiopia constituting nearly 40% of the total population of 96 million people in 2014. Nonetheless, it has endured unbearable political and economic marginalization since the Oromo and other oppressed peoples were incorporated into the Ethiopian Empire at the end of the 19th century. What we are witnessing today is further intensification of the violations of the basic human and democratic rights of the Oromo nation and other oppressed nations of the south. 

The plan to expand garrison cities such as Finfinnee and Hawassa at the expense of the indigenous inhabitants living on the adjacent lands reflect an absolute lack of concern for the survival and livelihood securities of the local people. In Sidama the Federal government is said to have finalized a plan to confiscate 15 kms of land from the Sidama farmers to expand the Hawassa city in all four directions. Over 42 Sidama farmers who have recently resisted eviction are currently languishing in prisons in Hawassa town. Over 80% of the indigenous Ethiopian peoples in rural areas sharing similar fate. In the same manner the Oromo people living adjacent to Finfinnee are being displaced in the name of “development projects” the Sidama farmers on the lands adjacent to Hawassa city are being displaced to give way to the so-called Industrial parks, Hotels, Airports, and resorts from which have never and will never benefit. We are not opposed to modernization and economic development. We are of the view that development should benefit the people living on the land first. The obsession about the expansion of the garrison cities in Oromia and Sidama is not born out of a genuine concern for economic development. These are well crafted policies to erode the nominal regional autonomy granted to the various oppressed nations in the country.

The Oromo civilians are echoing the causes of all oppressed peoples in the country. They are echoing the grievances not only of the Oromo people but also of the Sidama people and farmers who are undergoing the same agonizing experiences as the Oromo farmers. Therefore, we call up on all Sidama University and high school students and the wider Sidama community to join the peaceful protest by the Oromo people as a matter of urgency. We understand that universities in Sidama have been locked down by security forces since the Oromo student protests began three weeks ago. Nonetheless, this are trying times for both Oromo and Sidama nations and we should persevere. We shall not have been locked down and barred from exercising our democratic rights peacefully.

We also call up on the United Nations, United States, UK, Germany, China, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, the European Union, and the African Union to exert pressure on the Ethiopian government to immediately halt the use of violence against peaceful Oromo civilians echoing legitimate grievances about the livelihood securities of their people of Oromia.

Finally, on behalf of the Sidama people, the Sidama National Liberation Front expresses deepest condolences for the tragic losses of the lives of peaceful students and civilians in Oromia in the past weeks and today.

Sidama National Liberation Front

14 December 2015

To read the SNLF report in its original version, please find it in the folder attached to this article.