Feb 03, 2016

Oromo: Torture and Abuse in Ethiopian Prisons

On Friday, 29 January 2016, a number of Oromo prisoners were tortured and abused by prison officials for over ten hours. One of the abused might have been killed. This tragic incident highlights once more the unacceptable conditions in Ethiopian prisons in general and the dreadful plights of Oromo political prisoners in particular.


Below is a press release published by the Human Rights League of the Horn of Africa:


The Human Rights League of the Horn of Africa (HRLHA) would like to express its deep concerns regarding the safety of Oromo prisoners in the Kalitti Jail in Addis Ababa/Finfinne in Ethiopia. According to information leaked out from the Jail and obtained by the HRLHA, Oromo prisoners are discriminatory subjected to torture in a very harsh jail condition in underground dark rooms.

In an inhuman and extrajudicial action taken against some Oromo prisons on the 29th of January, 2016, a lot of Oromo inmates were subjected to tortures that last for over ten hours and left those victims in life-threatening situations. The attack on Oromo prisoners by the prison guards and administrators was executed in two rounds on the same nights in two different compounds of the Jail. According to the leaked documents, it first started in the compound known as “Number Two”.

In an after-hour operation, a handful of Oromo inmates were taken out of their prison cells on this Number Two compounds. They were beaten up and tortured for hours and eventually taken to the compound called “Tanker”. They were all naked, their bodies covered with blood, cuts and wounds, and broken limbs.

Tanker is a compound where most of the dark prison cells are located, according to the document obtained by HRLHA. Shocked by the conditions of those tortured Oromos, the Oromo inmates who were previously in the dark cells of the Tanker compound asked as to why they were not allowed at least to have clothes on themselves. This very question triggered another round of assault and torture on some of those who raised the question. These include Kadir Zinabu, Abdisa Ifa, Fakada Abdisa, Abdii Birru, Banti Daggafa, Dajjazmach Bayyana, and Hasien Abdurahman. They were all severely beaten up; and finally transferred to another dark room within the Tanker compound. Husien Abdurahman in particular was separated from all others and taken away to a yet unknown destination; because he was bitterly crying and screaming due to the severe injuries and wounds he received from the assaults and torture. Mr. Husien Abdurahman was not seen or heard from since then (the morning of January 30, 2016). There has been a very deep fear among his fellow prisoners that he might not be alive any more.

This inhuman and extrajudicial operation of torture was headed by a prison official called Gabriel-Igzi’abiher, and took place from around 9:00 PM to about 11:00 AM Ethiopian time. According to the information obtained from the Jail, Mr. Gabre-Igzi’abiher was further threatening the whole Oromo political prisoners verbally, mentioning that he and the government led by his TPLF party could, if need be, drag Oromo prisoners out of their prison cells one by one and shoot them dead.

Such inhuman and cruel treatments added to the already harsh prison situation like that of Kalitti, the safety of political prisoners, who are categorized as enemies by the Ethiopian Government, is undoubtedly at risk. Therefore, HRLHA calls upon all regional and international human rights and diplomatic agencies that they do all that is at their disposal to ensure the wellbeing of the political prisoners in Kalitti Jail and elsewhere in Ethiopia.