The following is an Urgent Action statement from the Human Rights League of the Horn of Africa (HRLHA).
HRLHA Urgent Action
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 06, 2014
The human rights abuses against Oromo students in different universities have continued unabated over the past six months – more than a hundred Oromo students were extra-judicially wounded or killed, while thousands were jailed by a special squad: the “Agazi” force.
This harsh crackdown against the Oromo students, which resulted in deaths, arrests, detentions and disappearances, happened following peaceful protests by the Oromo students and the Oromo people in April-May 2014 against the so-called “Integrated Master Plan of Addis Ababa.” This plan was targeted at the annexation of many small towns of Oromia to the capital Addis Ababa. It would have meant the eviction of around six million Oromos from their lands and long-time livelihoods without being consulted or giving consent. The Human Rights League of the Horn of Africa (HRLHA) has repeatedly expressed its deep concern about such human rights violations against the Oromo nation by the EPRDF government(1).
The HRLHA reporter in Addis Ababa confirmed that, in connection with the April-May, 2014 peaceful protests, among the many students picked from different universities and other places in the regional State of Oromia and detained in Maikelawi/”the Ethiopian Guantanamo bay Detention camp,” the following nine students and another four, Abdi Kamal, TofiK Kamal and Abdusamad – businessmen from Eastern Hararge Dirre Dawa town, and Chaltu Duguma (F), an employee of Wellega University, are in critical condition due to the continuous severe torture inflicted upon them in the past five months.
The current ongoing arrests and detention of Oromo students started when the students were forced to attend a “political training” said to be a government plan to indoctrinate the students with the political agenda of EPRDF for two weeks before the regular classes started in mid-September 2014. Before the training started, students demanded that the government release the students who were imprisoned during the peaceful protests of April-May 2014. Instead of giving a positive answer to the students’ legitimate questions, the federal government deployed its military forces to Ambo and Wellega University campuses to silence their voices; many students were severely beaten, and hundreds were taken to prison from August 20-29, 2014. Through the brutality of the federal government’s military “Agazi,” students from Ambo University, Hinaafu Lammaa, Kuma Fayisa, Tarreessaa Waaqummaa Mulugeta,Sukkaaraa Cimidi, Leensa Hailu Bedhane (F) and Elizabeth Legesse (lost her two teeth) were among those harshly beaten in their dormitories, and then thrown outside naked in the open air.
The HRLHA reporter documented the following names among hundreds of students taken to different detention centers from both Ambo and Wellega Universities on August 28 and 29, 2014.
Among many Wellaga University students, those who were severely beaten on 28/08/2014 – Markos Taye, Ganati Desta and Mosisa Fufa – were first taken to Nekemte Hospital and later transferred to Tikur Anbasa, a hospital in the capital city, more than 300km away, for further treatment. They remain there in critical condition.
The most recent report (Sept. 3, 2014) received by HRLHA from Ambo town indicates that more than 250 students released from Senkele detention center have been taken back to their villages so that their parents or guardians can sign documents stating that their children are responsible for the conflict created between the students and the federal military. The parents of the students rejected the attempt of the government to make their children guilty by supporting, instead, the demands of the students“Free our friends, bring the killers of the students to court.”
By killing, torturing and detaining nonviolent protesters, the government of Ethiopia is breaching:
1. The 1995 constitution of the Ethiopia, Articles 29 and 30, which grant basic democratic rights to all Ethiopian citizens(2).
2. All international and regional human rights instruments that Ethiopia signed, and the UN Human Rights council 19th(3) and 25th(4) sessions resolutions that call upon states, with regard to peaceful protests, to promote and protect all human rights and to prevent all human rights violations during peaceful protests.
Therefore, the HRLHA calls upon the Ethiopian Government to refrain from systematically eliminating the young generation of Oromo nationals and respect all international human rights standards, and all civil and political rights of citizens it has signed in particular.
HRLHA also calls upon governments of the West, all local, regional and international human rights agencies to join hands and demand an immediate halt to such kinds of extra-judicial actions against one’s own citizens. Detainees should be released without any preconditions and the murderers should brought to justice.
RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send appeals to the Ethiopian Government and its appropriate government ministries and/or officials as swiftly as possible, both in English and Ahmaric, or in your own language:
– Expressing concerns regarding the apprehension and possible torture of citizens who are being held in different detention centers, including the infamous Ma’ikelawi Central Investigation Office, and calling for their immediate and unconditional release;
– Request that the government refrain from detaining, harassing, discriminating against Oromo Nationals;
– Urging the Ethiopian authorities to ensure that detainees are treated in accordance with the regional and international standards regarding the treatment of prisoners;
– Also send your concerns to diplomatic representatives in Ethiopia who are accredited to your country.
(2) Constitution of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia 1995, http://www.wipo.int/wipolex/en/text.jsp?file_id=193667