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UMD News: From Duluth to Oromia: Helping Those in Need April 29, 2016

Posted by OromianEconomist in Development & Change, Oromia, Oromo, Oromummaa, Uncategorized.
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Odaa Oromoo

Amane explains how water will be distributed

Aspiring to Assist
Amane Wako, a UMD junior double majoring in accounting and international studies, is one of those students who has the desire to help others.

Lessons in Duluth
Amane has volunteered at the Damiano Center, a social services organization in Duluth, for years. She tutors children in math and reading at their Kid’s Café and she helps out homeless and low income people by serving meals in their kitchen.

She was impressed by the organization’s philosophy, and she wants to start her own non-profit organization, so she can help those in need someday.

That day came sooner than she ever imagined. This past winter, Amane helped 47 households in the Oromia region of Ethiopia.

Amane is originally from Oromia. She moved to United States with her mother and attended Cooper High School in Minneapolis. However, most of her relatives are still in Oromia, and she visits them regularly.

In December 2015, Amane watched television news and saw a protest by Oromo farmers and residents who wanted the government to stop taking their land. Security forces killed at least 40 people, hundreds were wounded, and thousands were detained during the three weeks of uprisings in Oromia.

Amane was upset and worried about the Oromo people. “I wanted to do something to help families back in my home region.”

Immediately she looked for ways to help get food and water to the people in Oromia. Amane talked with her professors and asked for a few minutes of class time to give presentations. UMD students donated hundreds of dollars to the cause.

When Amane went back to Minneapolis on weekends, she gave a presentation at a church and talked to friends to raise even more money.

By the time she went back to Oromia during the winter break, she had gathered over $1000. Amane was joined by her friends in Oromia to make deliveries. In spite of the dangers, she and her friends bought food and water to those most in need. They listened to the stories of the families affected by the violence.

“People in my home region suffered. Many were hungry, thirsty and homeless,” she said. “I want to do more to help them, but as a student, the only thing I can do now is to study harder.”

Amane has a plan though. “In the future, I want to build a place to serve free food, just like the Damiano Center does in Duluth,” she says.

Women wait UMD students from Oromia
Amane listened to stories of people affected by violence. UMD students from Oromia

http://www.d.umn.edu/external-affairs/homepage/16/helping-oromia.html

 

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Oromo Federalist Congress International Support: Freedom for Bekele Gerba and all political prisoners in Ethiopian prisons April 29, 2016

Posted by OromianEconomist in #OromoProtests.
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Odaa OromooOromo Federalist  CongressFree Bekele Gerba and all political prisonners in Ethiopia

 

The following is a statement of the Oromo Federalist Congress International Support Group (OFC-ISG)


 

OFC-ISG Press Release No. 4 – April 27, 2016


“Ethiopian Prosecutors Charge Oromo Opposition Leaders under Anti-Terrorism Proclamation”


On April 22, 2016, Ethiopian federal prosecutors charged 22 individuals, including Mr. Bekele Gerba, First Secretary-General of the Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC), with violations of various articles of Ethiopia’s notorious Anti-Terrorism Proclamation (ATP). The charges include – but are not limited to – alleged communication with the banned Oromo Liberation Front (OLF), public incitement, encouraging violence, causing the deaths of innocent civilians as well as property destruction in cities, such as Ambo and Adama, during the recent protests in Oromia, Ethiopia. All prisoners were previously transferred from Makalawi to Qilinxu jail without any notice to their families or lawyers.

“When they arrived at Qilinxu prison, they were offered to take pills by prison administration – which all the 22 prisoners refused,” according to Bekele Gerba’s daughter Bontu in an interview she gave to Oromia Media Network (OMN) on April 23, 2016. “Then, the prison police took 4 of the prisoners – Bekele Gerba, Dejene Tafa, Addisu Bulala and Gurmessa Ayana – to a dark room and they are no more with the 18 others,” she added. “We, family members, were no more able to visit them this weekend,” said Aynalem Debelo, the wife of the Deputy Secretary of OFC, Dejene Tafa. “When we request their whereabouts and demand to visit them, the police has no answer. They told us to communicate with the prison administrators who are not willing to talk to us,” they told OMN.

Even when they were in Makelawi, prison conditions were harsh and dangerous. Bekele explained this in his own words in the court the following way:

“መታሰር ምንም ማለት አይደለም። አስሮ ሰብዓዊ መብትን መጣስ ግን የትም ሃገር የሌለ ነው። እንደ ኢትዬጵያ መንግስት ጨካኝ የለም። 4 በ 5 በሆነች ቤት የምንኖረው 23 እስረኞች ሆነን ነው። እዛችው ቤት ውስጥ ለሽንት የምንጠቀምበት ባልዲ እና የሁላችንም ልብስ ይቀመጣል። ይህን ተቃውመን የረሃብ አድማ ብናደርግ ‘ከፈለጋችሁ መሞት ትችላላችሁ’ ነው የተባልነው። እኛም ለመሞት ዝግጁ ነን።” – በቀለ ገርባ, 18/03/16

“Imprisonment is not a big deal. Violating prisoners’ human rights is rare in the world. No one is cruel like the Ethiopian government. We share a room of 4-meters by 5-meters with 23 prisoners. We put our clothes and a bucket for emergency in the same room. When we protested this by hunger strike, they told us, ‘You can die if you want to.’ We too are ready to die”.
– Bekele Gerba, Deputy Chairperson of Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC), March 18, 2016, at his third remand hearing.

Mr. Gerba appealed to the court about the inhumane and degrading conditions in the prison cell, but to no avail. During his fourth appearance in court on April 15, 2016, he showed his lawyer the rashes on his body resulting from insect bites, mainly bedbugs and fleas. Such detention conditions violate Article 18(1) of the Ethiopian Constitution, which reads: “Everyone has the right to protection against cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.”

Mr. Gerba and others committed no crime, neither were they informed about all the charges against them. Above all, Mr. Gerba believes that only a peaceful and nonviolent struggle can guarantee real change and build a truly democratic society in Ethiopia. Mr. Gerba rejects violence and has stated as much in several interviews. He believes in Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King’s philosophy of nonviolent political resistance and has translated one of Dr. King’s books into Oromo so as to better spread this message. The EPRDF government’s accusations of terrorism against these Oromo political leaders are baseless. Rather, these charges are being used to suppress the basic human rights of Oromos and other Ethiopian peoples who are struggling to bring democracy, freedom and justice to Ethiopia. Such acts by Ethiopian government violate Articles 29, 30, and 31 of the Ethiopian Constitution, which guarantees the “Right of Thought, Opinion and Expression; The Right of Assembly, Demonstration and Petition and Freedom of Association.”

The Oromo Federalist Congress International Support Group (OFC-ISG) is saddened by the magnitude of charges brought against Mr. Gerba and other political prisoners. We would like our supporters, friends and the world to know that these charges are false allegations. As stated by the Chairperson of the OFC-ISG, in an interview with Oromo-TV, “What worries OFC-ISG most is the fate of that country. If such acts of absolute repression crush every peaceful movement and produce radicals, it is advantageous neither to Ethiopia nor to the West. Therefore, we ask the international community to stand by our side and put pressure on the Ethiopian government to unconditionally free all Oromo political prisoners since the government has already taken accountability for the poor governance that ignited the Oromo protests in Oromia.”

The Oromo Federalist Congress International Support Group (OFC-ISG) is a non-profit organization established in 2010 with the mission to bring an end to the brutal oppression, injustice and inequality with a view to advancing human rights, rule of law, good governance, protection of the environment and sustainable development in Ethiopia by supporting the struggle of the Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC) through advocacy, education and financial contributions.

Oromo Federalist Congress International Support Group
Minneapolis MN

U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken condemned the lethal violence used by the government of Ethiopia against hundreds of Oromo protesters. #OromoProtests April 29, 2016

Posted by OromianEconomist in #OromoProtests.
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Odaa Oromoo#OromoProtests iconic picture

Klobuchar, Franken Condemn Ethiopia’s Lethal Violence Against Protesters

For Immediate Release:
Klobuchar, Franken Condemn Ethiopia’s Lethal Violence Against Protesters

Contact:
Colin Milligan (Klobuchar), 202-228-6317
Michael Dale-Stein (Franken), 202-224-2916

The bipartisan resolution calls for the Secretary of State to conduct a review of U.S. security assistance to Ethiopia in light of allegations that Ethiopian security forces have killed civilians;it also calls upon the government of Ethiopia to halt violent crackdowns, conduct a credible investigation into the killing of protesters, and hold perpetrators of such violence accountable

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken today condemned the lethal violence used by the government of Ethiopia against hundreds of Oromo protesters. The bipartisan Senate resolution calls for the Secretary of State to conduct a review of U.S. security assistance to Ethiopia in light of allegations that Ethiopian security forces have killed civilians. It also calls upon the government of Ethiopia to halt violent crackdowns, conduct a credible investigation into the killing of protesters, and hold perpetrators of such violence accountable.

“I am deeply concerned by continuing reports of violence and restrictions on civil liberties perpetrated by Ethiopian security forces in the Oromia region of Ethiopia,”said Klobuchar. “Minnesota is proud to be home to the largest Oromo community in the United States. My thoughts are with the families of those who have been victims of violence in Ethiopia. I call on Prime Minister Desalgen to restore confidence in the government by putting an end to the violence and intimidation from Ethiopian security forces against peaceful protestors.”

“Around 40,000 Oromo people live in Minnesota, and I’m proud that our state is home to so many vibrant immigrant families,” said Franken. “I stand with our local Oromo community against the terrible violence that’s affected their loved ones who are still in Ethiopia. For years, the Ethiopian government has been accused of serious human rights violations—unprovoked arrests, torture, and oppression—and in recent months, reports indicate that at least 200 people have been killed by Ethiopian security forces. Our bipartisan resolution will help bring much-needed awareness to a terrible tragedy that can no longer go overlooked.”

The protests in Ethiopia, which began last November, were prompted by concerns about lack of grassroots consultation with affected communities in advance of the Ethiopian government’s plan to expand the capital, Addis Ababa.  At least 200 people are believed to have died at the hands of security forces during the course of the protests, and hundreds more have been jailed, including journalists reporting on the demonstrations. In February, Klobuchar and Franken sent a letter to Secretary Kerry urging the administration take action to address escalating violence against civilians in the Oromia region of Ethiopia. Minnesota is home to the largest Oromo population in the United States.

The United States works closely with Ethiopia on Administration initiatives including Feed the Future and the African Peacekeeping Rapid Response Partnership.