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HRW: joint letter from 9 organizations urging US Congress to vote HR 128 & show respect for human rights in #Ethiopia October 14, 2017

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US Congress: Vote on H.Res 128

Support Respect for Human Rights in Ethiopia

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HRW: Ethiopia: Exercise Restraint at Upcoming Irreecha Festival. International Inquiry Needed into Deaths at 2016 Event September 21, 2017

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Ethiopia: Exercise Restraint at Upcoming Festival

International Inquiry Needed into Deaths at 2016 Event

Human Rights Watch, 19 September 2017

HRW: The Long Arm of Ethiopia Reaches for Those Who Fled September 21, 2017

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The Long Arm of Ethiopia Reaches for Those Who Fled

Ethiopia’s Refugees Unsafe in Kenya and Elsewhere

HRW: UN Rights Council should address DR Congo, Turkey, and Ethiopia June 17, 2017

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In Ethiopia, a state of emergency has been in place since October, following a year of protests where around 1000 were killed by security forces, tens of thousands detained, and key opposition figures charged under the antiterrorism law. Restrictions have resulted in a cessation of protests for now, providing a window of opportunity for the government, but there is little sign that they are moving to implement human rights reforms. Ethiopia has ignored repeated calls for international investigations, saying it can investigate itself, but recent investigations by the Human Rights Commission have not met even the most basic standards of impartiality, underlining the need for an international investigation.

 


UN Rights Council should address DR Congo, Turkey, and Ethiopia; Greece should not block EU attention to human rights in China

HRW, 16 June 2017

Item 4 General Debate


HRW: European Parliament Demands Investigation Into Ethiopia Killings. #OromoProtes May 19, 2017

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European Parliament Demands Investigation Into Ethiopia Killings

Resolution Calls for Urgent UN Inquiry Into Protester Deaths and Detention

Fear of Investigation: What Does Ethiopia’s Government Have to Hide? April 21, 2017

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Fear of Investigation: What Does Ethiopia’s Government Have to Hide?

 

In February 2016, an 18-year-old student who I will call Tolessa and two friends took part in their first protest, in Oromia’s East Hararghe zone. As the crowd moved forward, they were met by a line of regional police, federal police and the army. Shortly thereafter and without warning, security forces fired live ammunition into the crowd hitting Tolessa four times. Miraculously he survived. But his two friends were not so lucky.

I first interviewed him in April 2016 for the Human Rights Watch June 2016 report on abuses during the first six months of the Oromo protests. Several days ago, Tolessa got in touch with me again to update me on his condition.

I spoke to him around the time that Ethiopia’s national Human Rights Commission submitted an oral report to parliament on the protests. This was the Commission’s second report to parliament, covering the protests between June and September in parts of Oromia, Amhara, and SNNPR regions. The Commission found that 669 people were killed, including 63 members of the security forces, and concluded – once again – that security forces had taken “proportionate measures in most areas.”

While many will focus on the death toll, the commission’s conclusion that the use of force was mostly proportionate and appropriate is in stark contrast to the descriptions of victims like Tolessa, and at odds with the findings of other independent investigators. At this stage, the grounds for the commission’s conclusion are unclear, since no written report has yet been published.

In its first oral report to parliament, in June, the commission similarly concluded that the level of force used by federal security forces in Oromia was proportionate. The written version of this report was only made public this week, 10 months later. In the 92 page English version [134 pages in Amharic] there is no mention of security forces firing on protesters, mass arrests, torture in detention, or any one of a slew of other abuses that have been widely reported.

Instead, the commission largely describes violence committed by protesters as described to the commission members by local government officials, security forces, and elders. It parrots the government’s narrative, making many references to Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) involvement, but never provides any evidence for this allegation. It references interviews with detainees, but otherwise fails to describe the commission’s methodology, including how many protesters, victims, and witnesses its members interviewed.

It’s quite possible that many protesters and victims of security force abuses would not speak to the commission because of the widespread perception that it has no independence from the government. Independence is crucial for any successful national human rights commission, and the Ethiopian institution has failed to meet this bar for many years. I know first-hand that it is not difficult to find protesters willing to share their experiences.

Armed security officials watch as protesters stage a protest against government during the Irreechaa cultural festival in Bishoftu, Ethiopia on October 02, 2016.

Armed security officials watch as protesters stage a protest against government during the Irreechaa cultural festival in Bishoftu, Ethiopia on October 02, 2016.

Aside from the commission’s activities, there is no domestic scrutiny of security force abuses. The members of parliament are all from the ruling party and affiliates. The judiciary lacks independence on politically motivated cases. Various courts have consistently refused to investigate mounting allegations of torture from detainees. Harassment, prosecutions, and swathes of restrictions have stifled independent media and nongovernmental organizations. In this situation, the commission and other “independent” institutions like the ombudsmen could play a vital role in scrutinizing abuse by Ethiopia’s security forces, but they too are apparently hamstrung by government influence.

The government consistently tries to frame the protests as the result of lack of “good governance” and youth unemployment. Yet one of the most common slogans heard on the streets of Oromia and Amhara, particularly in the later months of the protests, was a call to respect human rights, stop shooting protesters, and stop imprisoning students. The patterns of abuse documented by several human rights groups in Oromia  during various periods, including the 2005 pre-election period and between 2011-2014 are strikingly similar.  In each case, the government ignored calls for independent investigations, denied the allegations, and claimed they were politically motivated. These longstanding patterns of abuse against those who challenge the government, committed with complete impunity, are key to understanding the levels of anger fueling protests in the streets of Oromia over the last 18 months. And Oromia isn’t the only place in Ethiopia that has experienced serious rights violations by security forces – sometimes repeatedly – without meaningful investigations.

In Gambella, Human Rights Watch documented possible crimes against humanity by the Ethiopian army in 2003 and 2004, including extrajudicial executions, rape, and torture. In the Somali Regional State (SRS), the Ethiopian military committed war crimes and possibly crimes against humanity between mid-2007 and 2008 during their counterinsurgency campaign against the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF). The government-allied Liyu police have subsequently committed numerous extrajudicial killings, torture, rape, and other attacks on civilians in SRS. Instead of permitting independent investigators to come in, the Ethiopian government consistently shuts the door and insists that Ethiopian institutions, such as the Human Rights Commission, can do the job.

I asked Tolessa his view of the commission. He said it’s “just another arm of the government,” and noted that the its head, Dr Addisu Gebregziabher, was previously chair of the National Electoral Board, another body with questionable independence. While the commission’s lack of independence is hardly newsworthy, it does underscore the need for independent, international scrutiny of Ethiopia’s rights record, especially given the government’s dubious claims that the commission’s investigations are credible. Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn reiterated this claim during an April 18 interview with the BBC, rejecting calls for a UN investigation into the protests by stating that Ethiopia is “an independent country that can investigate its own cases.” Yet these repeated refusals beg the question: if the security forces acted appropriately, then what is the government trying to hide?

Ethiopia is currently a member of both the United Nations Security Council and the United Nations Human Rights Council, which requires it to uphold the “highest standards of human rights.” Yet the government repeatedly rejects efforts to hold it to account, refusing entry to all UN special rapporteurs since 2007, except the Special Rapporteur on Eritrea. There are many outstanding requests from these UN monitors – on torture, freedom of opinion and expression, and peaceful assembly, among others. Recent calls by the United Nations top human rights official, the African Commission, the European parliament, and some members of United States Congress, for international investigations have all been dismissed. The government also avoids judicial scrutiny at the highest level as it is not a member of the International Criminal Court (ICC).

Ethiopia is certainly not alone in disliking international scrutiny of its rights record, yet many countries recognize that there are benefits to cooperation, particularly if there is genuine commitment to transparency, accountability, and improving human rights. Ethiopia’s continuous refusals call into question all of these commitments, instead making clear that it is not willing to stop using excessive force against protesters or torturing dissenters into silence.

Human Rights Watch research in many countries has demonstrated that a decision to ignore atrocities and reinforce a culture of impunity carries a high price, and merely encourages future abuses, which  should concern investors, diplomats, and others concerned about the long-term stability of Ethiopia following almost 18 months of bloody turmoil. An international investigation would be a first important step in ending Ethiopia’s culture of impunity and would send a powerful and overdue message to the Ethiopian government that its security forces cannot shoot and kill peaceful protesters with impunity. And it would send an important message to victims like Tolessa that their pleas for justice are being heard.


 

HRW: US: Stand Up for Ethiopians as Government Stifles Protests, Jails Journalists Human Rights Watch Statement on Ethiopia to US Congress March 10, 2017

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US: Stand Up for Ethiopians as Government Stifles Protests, Jails Journalists

Human Rights Watch Statement on Ethiopia to US Congress

HRW, 9 March 2017


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Human Rights Watch Statement to US House Foreign Affairs Committee, Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights, and International Organizations

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Chairman Smith, Ranking Member Bass, members of the Subcommittee: thank you for holding this important hearing on the current situation in Ethiopia and for inviting me to testify. I am pleased to be a part of it.

Ethiopia is a country of dual realities. Visitors and diplomats alike are impressed with the double-digit economic growth, the progress on development indicators, and the apparent political stability. But in many ways, this is a smokescreen: many Ethiopians live in fear. The current government – the only one since 1991 – runs the country with an almost complete grip on power, controlling almost all aspects of political, public, and even much private life. Pervasive telephone and online surveillance and an intricate network of informants allow the government to quickly curb any threats to its control; it silences critical voices through the use of arbitrary arrests and politically motivated prosecutions. These actions also prevent critical and divergent views as many who may be impacted by these harsh policies fear repercussions.

Ethiopia remains among Africa’s leading jailors of journalists. If you are or you seek to be an independent Ethiopian journalist you must choose between self-censorship, harassment, and possible arrest, or living in exile. The government blocks websites critical of the authorities and sometimes blocks the internet completely. Independent radio and television stations are regularly jammed. In short, the state tightly controls the media landscape, making it extremely challenging for Ethiopians to access information that is independent of government perspectives. As a result, Voice of America, which broadcasts in three Ethiopian languages, has become an increasingly important source of information for many Ethiopians but the government has, at times, obstructed its broadcasts as well.

Independent civil society groups face overwhelming obstructions. The 2009 Charities and Societies Proclamation has made obtaining foreign funding nearly impossible for groups working on human rights, good governance, and advocacy. Leading members of the human rights movement have been forced to flee abroad and many organizations have stopped working on human rights and good governance to avoid problems.

There have also been serious restrictions on opposition political parties. This led to the ruling coalition in the May 2015 election winning 100 percent of the seats in the federal and regional parliaments. This is despite evident anti-government sentiments in much of the country, as the protests would later illustrate. Arbitrary dentition of members and supporters, politically motivated criminal charges, and restrictions on financing ensures that opposition parties are constrained and largely ineffective.

The state systematically ensures that many of the country’s 100 million citizens are dependent on the government for their livelihoods, food security and economic future. It controls the benefits of development including access to seeds, fertilizers, jobs, health care, and humanitarian assistance, even when funded by the US or other donors. While US-funded development assistance contributes to much-needed poverty reduction efforts, it also adds to the repressive capacity of the government by bolstering Ethiopians’ reliance on the government for their livelihoods and ultimately for their survival.

There is no evidence that the ruling party rigs elections – they don’t need to. The population’s dependence on the ruling party and the limits on opposition parties leaves many citizens, particularly in rural areas, little choice but to support the ruling party come election time. As one farmer in the Amhara region told me in July 2014, “we do not like this government, but we always vote for them. We have to because we get our seeds and fertilizer from them. During times of drought, we get food aid from them. If we don’t vote for them, we can’t eat.” He went on to tell me about his neighbor who voted for the opposition in the 2010 election and shortly thereafter was denied food aid, was denied treatment at a government health clinic, and eventually was displaced from his land for an investment project run by a government cadre.

The justice system provides no check on the government. Courts have shown little independence during politically charged trials. Many opposition politicians, journalists, and activists have been convicted under the repressive 2009 anti-terrorism law and sentenced to lengthy prison terms. Acquittals are rare, credible evidence is often not presented, and trials are marred by numerous due process concerns. Mistreatment and torture are common in Ethiopia’s many places of detention. Just two weeks ago, Dr. Merera Gudina , the chair of the Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC), a legally registered political opposition party, was charged with “outrages against the constitution.” A former fellow at the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), Merera joins many other senior opposition leaders currently facing politically motivated criminal charges. Among those presently standing trial is OFC deputy chairman Bekele Gerba. Prosecutors included as ostensible evidence of his crimes a video of Bekele at an August 2016 conference here in Washington, DC, where he spoke of the importance of nonviolence and commitment to the electoral process. Like Merera, he has been a moderate voice of dissent in a highly polarized political landscape.

This begs the question: what avenues are left in Ethiopia to express dissent, to question government policies or to voice concern over abusive practices and how can the United States help strengthen free expression and association rights in Ethiopia?

I speak to you to today 16 months after large-scale and unprecedented protests started in Ethiopia’s largest region of Oromia in November 2015, spreading to the Amhara region in July 2016. Ethiopian military forces and police cracked down on these largely peaceful demonstrations, killing hundreds and detaining tens of thousands. The protests were a predictable response to the systematic and calculated suppression of fundamental rights and freedoms.

On October 2, the protest movement took a devastating turn. In Bishoftu in Ethiopia’s Oromia region, security forces mishandled a large crowd at the Irreecha cultural event causing a stampede that killed scores of people as they fled security forces. In the days that followed, angry mobs of youth destroyed government buildings and private property. Ethiopia was on the brink of chaos. One week after the Irreecha tragedy the government announced a state of emergency that remains in place. It prescribed sweeping and vaguely worded restrictions on a broad range of actions undermining rights to free expression, association, and peaceful assembly. It goes far beyond what is permissible under international human rights law and signaled a continuation of the militarized response to the expression of grievances. While the state of emergency has halted both the destruction of properties and the protests themselves, underlying grievances remain. No one should deny there are serious risks that more unrest could occur.

Since imposing the state of emergency, the Ethiopian government has repeatedly committed publicly to undertake “deep reform” and engage in dialogue with opposition parties to address grievances. In short, the authorities are saying the right things. But the only changes the government has made so far are largely cosmetic and fall dramatically short of the protesters’ calls for the protection of basic human rights.

The continuation of the state of emergency – furthering crushing the space for free expression and divergent views of governance – is not conducive for the open dialogue that is needed to address Ethiopia’s ongoing crisis. The government announced that it arrested over 20,000 people since the state of emergency began, although there has been little corroboration of these numbers, which could be higher. These mass arrests along with politically motivated trials of key opposition leaders, reinforces the message that the government is continuing along the path of suppressing dissent by force and not engaging in genuine and meaningful dialogue with opposition groups.

The Ethiopian government’s responses to all of these abuses have been consistent. The allegations are routinely denied without meaningful investigation, the government claiming they are politically motivated, while simultaneously restricting access for independent media and human rights investigators. In a report to parliament last June, the Ethiopia Human Rights Commission, a government body, concluded that the level of force used by federal security forces was proportionate to the risk they faced from protesters. This is contrary to all available evidence, including that contained in the US State Department’s recently released Human Rights Country Report for Ethiopia. No one has seen a written version of the Commission’s report that would justify such a conclusion.

While we are speaking today about the lack of accountability over the brutal crackdown in Oromia and Amhara regions over the last 16 months, Ethiopians in other regions have also been victims of serious abuses, most often without any meaningful investigations by the government. For example, Human Rights Watch documented possible crimes against humanity committed by the Ethiopian army in 2003 and 2004 in the Gambella region. There was no credible investigation into the extrajudicial executions, rape, and torture. In Ethiopia’s Somali Regional State, the Ethiopian military committed war crimes and possibly crimes against humanity between mid-2007 and 2008 during their counterinsurgency campaign against the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF). The Liyu police, a paramilitary force formed in 2008 that reports to the president of the Somali Regional State, have been implicated in numerous extrajudicial killings, torture, rape, and attacks on civilians accused of backing the ONLF. No meaningful investigations have been undertaken into any of these alleged abuses in the Somali Regional State.

International scrutiny of Ethiopia’s rights record has also been lacking despite its June election to the UN Security Council, and its membership on the UN Human Rights Council – which requires it to uphold the “highest standards of human rights” and cooperate with UN monitors. Ethiopia has refused entry to all UN special rapporteurs since 2007, except the Special Rapporteur on Eritrea. There are outstanding requests from the special rapporteurs on torture, freedom of opinion and expression, and peaceful assembly, among others. In total, 11 UN Special Rapporteurs have outstanding requests for access to Ethiopia.

Despite abundant evidence of serious and growing repression by the Ethiopian government, particularly since the 2005 election, the US government has been a muted critic. Quiet diplomacy proven ineffectual and has coincided with the dramatic downward spiral in human rights and a serious constriction of political space that has led to the crisis Ethiopia is in today. It is time for a new US approach to Ethiopia in which Congress can play a leadership role in seeking a more balanced policy and requiring more deliberate oversight as it has done in other countries in crisis, including the Democratic Republic of Congo and Egypt.

As a starting point, members of Congress should speak out strongly and publicly against abuses by the Ethiopian government. House Resolution 128 and the resolutions introduced last year are steps in the right direction and contain many important elements. While non-binding, they are impactful because they let the Ethiopian government know there are repercussions for brutality against their own citizens – brutality that undermines US priorities in the Horn of Africa, including security, development, and economic growth. These partnerships are dependent on long-term stability in Ethiopia. Opposition to the ruling party’s repressive rule – as witnessed in the last 16 months – is a glaring indication that Ethiopia’s governance model marked by lack of respect for basic rights, is incapable of ensuring that stability.

International legitimacy is very important to the Ethiopian government – it wants to be a key player on the international stage and condemnation of its human rights record contradicts that image. So consistent, sustained and vocal pressure is critical.

It is crucial that the US makes it clear that if Ethiopia is going to remain a strong US partner it needs to open up legitimate political space and allow for critical voices to be heard. To begin with, members of Congress can and should call for the release of all political prisoners, including those like Bekele and Merera who should be part of any credible dialogue between the government and opposition parties. Members of Congress should also call for the release of all journalists unjustly jailed and call for the repeal or substantial amendment of repressive laws used to stifle critical voices. Any meetings with the Ethiopian ambassador to the US should include these points, as should any meetings with other Ethiopian officials, whether in DC or elsewhere. As the FY18 budget process gets underway, US support to the Ethiopian government should be conditioned on making progress in these and other areas of concern.

Members of Congress should use available opportunities to tell Ethiopia to stop hiding its own human rights record from international scrutiny. As a member of both the Human Rights Council and the Security Council, Ethiopia should cooperate fully with UN special mechanisms, in particular the rapporteurs on peaceful assembly and torture.

As expressed in House Resolution 128, members of Congress should reiterate the call of the UN high commissioner for human rights, the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, and others for an independent international investigation into the crackdown in Oromia and Amhara regions. Such action will send a powerful message to the Ethiopian government that its security forces cannot shoot and kill peaceful protesters with impunity. It will also send an important message to the victims and families, that their pleas for justice are being heard.

I’ll close by saying that I am aware of concerns expressed by some in the administration – and even here in Congress – that a more public stance on Ethiopia’s domestic situation might undermine the bilateral partnership between Addis Ababa and Washington – including cooperation on development, security and peacekeeping. But the United States has often underestimated its own leverage and been overly cautious as a result. Some of Ethiopia’s international partners have made strong public statements in the last year and these statements have not undermined their strategic partnerships. Far from it. The US may need Ethiopia – but Ethiopia needs the US too. The US should send a strong signal of support to the many Ethiopian citizens and Ethiopian Americans who seek the protection of their rights, greater political space, and democracy but whose fight for dignity and freedom has been crushed time and again through brutal force.

Thank you.


Related articles:

Terrence Lyons, Testimony for hearing entitled Democracy Under Threat in Ethiopia

Seenaa Jimjimoo, Testimony for hearing entitled Democracy Under Threat in Ethiopia

Tewodrose Tirfe, Testimony for hearing entitled Democracy Under Threat in Ethiopia

Abaguya Ayele Deki, Testimony for hearing entitled Democracy Under Threat in Ethiopia

Yoseph Tafari, Testimony for hearing entitled Democracy Under Threat in Ethiopia

Human Rights Watch: Ethiopia: Year of Brutality, Restrictions: Restore Rights, Address Grievances January 13, 2017

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Ethiopia: Year of Brutality, Restrictions


Restore Rights, Address Grievances

HRW

HRW, 12 January 2017


Languages Available In አማርኛ English

(Nairobi) – Ethiopia plunged into a human rights crisis in 2016, increasing restrictions on basic rights during a state of emergency and continuing a bloody crackdown against largely peaceful protesters, Human Rights Watch said today in its World Report 2017. The state of emergency permits arbitrary detention, restricts access to social media, and bans communications with foreign groups.

Ethiopian security hold back demonstrators chanting slogans during Irreecha, the thanksgiving festival of the Oromo people, in Bishoftu town, Oromia region, Ethiopia, October 2, 2016.

Ethiopian security hold back demonstrators chanting slogans during Irreecha, the thanksgiving festival of the Oromo people, in Bishoftu town, Oromia region, Ethiopia, October 2, 2016.

Security forces killed hundreds and detained tens of thousands of protesters in Ethiopia’s Oromia and Amhara regions during the year. Many of those who were released reported that they were tortured in detention, a longstanding problem in Ethiopia. The government has failed to meaningfully investigate security forces abuses or respond to calls for an international investigation into the crackdown.

“Instead of addressing the numerous calls for reform in 2016, the Ethiopian government used excessive and unnecessary lethal force to suppress largely peaceful protests,” said Felix Horne, senior Africa researcher at Human Rights Watch. “Vague promises of reform are not enough. The government needs to restore basic rights and engage in meaningful dialogue instead of responding to criticism with more abuses.”

In the 687-page World Report, its 27th edition, Human Rights Watch reviews human rights practices in more than 90 countries. In his introductory essay, Executive Director Kenneth Roth writes that a new generation of authoritarian populists seeks to overturn the concept of human rights protections, treating rights as an impediment to the majority will. For those who feel left behind by the global economy and increasingly fear violent crime, civil society groups, the media, and the public have key roles to play in reaffirming the values on which rights-respecting democracy has been built.

Protester anger boiled over following October’s Irreecha cultural festival, when security forces’ mishandling of the massive crowd caused a stampede, resulting in many deaths. In response, angry youth destroyed private and government property, particularly in the Oromia region. The government then announced the state of emergency, codifying many of the security force abuses documented during the protests, and signaling an increase in the militarized response to protesters’ demands for reform.

Government limitations on free expression and access to information undermine the potential for the inclusive political dialogue needed to understand protesters’ grievances, let alone address them, Human Rights Watch said.

The tens of thousands of people detained in 2016 include journalists, bloggers, musicians, teachers, and health workers. Moderates like the opposition leader Bekele Gerba have been charged with terrorism and remain behind bars, education has been disrupted, and thousands have fled the country.

The Liyu police, a paramilitary force, committed numerous abuses against residents of the Somali region in 2016, and displacement from Ethiopia’s development projects continued, including in the Omo valley.

The crackdown during 2016 followed years of systematic attacks against opposition parties, nongovernmental organizations, and independent media, effectively closing political space and providing little room for dissenting voices.


“Open Letter to Government of Ethiopia” From Lotte Leicht, EU Director, Human Rights Watch. #OromoProtests #OromoRevolution #Africa November 4, 2016

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Open Letter to Government of Ethiopia From Lotte Leicht, EU Director, Human Rights Watch

fascist-tplf-armed-security-forces-watch-as-protesters-stage-a-protest-against-government-during-the-irreechaa-cultural-festival-in-bishoftu-oromia-ethiopia-on-october-02-2016


Fascist TPLF security forces  watch as protesters stage a protest against government during the Irreechaa cultural festival in Bishoftu, Oromia (Ethiopia) on October 02, 2016. © 2016 Getty Images


November 4, 2016

Minister of Foreign Affairs
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
P.O. Box 393
Addis Ababa
Ethiopia


Re: Human Rights Watch Reporting on Ethiopia


Dear Minister,


Human Rights Watch notes the October 22, 2016 blog post of Dr. Tedros Adhanom, then minister of foreign affairs, on the Ministry’s website about our recent presentation to the European Parliament’s subcommittee on human rights and committee on development and concerns for our research into security force abuses.

Human Rights Watch’s research and recommendations are grounded in international human rights law, including regional human rights treaties. This applies to our research on Ethiopia and the other 90 countries where we work globally. As with all countries, we welcome engaging with Ethiopian government officials regarding our research and recommendations prior to and after we publish findings. Before any major report on Ethiopia is published, we provide a summary of our findings to the government for comment and seek to meet to discuss our findings and recommendations. Our letters and responses received are included in the report or on our website. To date there has rarely been a direct response from the Ethiopian government to our communications.

Because we have not received a response to our research queries or requests for meetings, we cannot exchange information that may illuminate our conclusions, or explain to government officials how we reached our conclusions.

We go to great lengths to corroborate victim accounts and other research findings. As a general practice we make corrections to our reporting when clear and corroborated information contravening our findings comes to light. For your information, our corrections page is at: https://www.hrw.org/corrections.

In most of the contexts in which Human Rights Watch works, we do not make our sources public or reveal identifying details, because those interviewed have genuine fear of reprisals or other security concerns. The safety of those we interview is a primary consideration in everything we do.

In Ethiopia, the government’s harassment and arbitrary detention of individuals providing information to civil society has effectively been codified in the state of emergency directive, underscoring the need for those sources to remain confidential. Detention of individuals providing information to journalists, both domestic and international, has also been previously documented by Human Rights Watch and others.

The decreasing space available for independent voices to express a range of views and to have those voices be heard by the government has contributed to the current human rights crisis in Ethiopia. Recent statements directed toward international organizations who conduct independent, corroborated research is illustrative of this growing intolerance for divergent opinions and perspectives. Nevertheless, Human Rights Watch will continue to encourage the government’s feedback on the substance of our research.

Need for an independent investigation

Recent calls for an international investigation reflect the gravity of human rights violations that we and others have documented, but also the lack of a credible, transparent, and impartial national investigation into the abuses that have occurred since November 2015. The June 2016 Human Rights Commission oral report to parliament that largely exonerated the state security forces did not meet basic international standards. No one, including several parliamentarians who have spoken to Human Rights Watch, has seen a written version of the report, which reaches conclusions very different from those of all other organizations who have documented abuses. If a written version of this report exists we urge you to publicly release it. We remain concerned that an impartial international investigation is needed and those implicated in serious abuses be held to account. We have called for such investigations in other contexts, most recently Burundi, South Sudan, and Eritrea – some of which your government was quick to support. The thousands of victims of human rights violations deserve justice and accountability.

The inquiry board set up by parliament to monitor abuses under the state of emergency provides another opportunity to demonstrate impartiality. While the lack of opposition voices on that board raises concerns, it still presents an opportunity to willfully monitor abuses and show that those responsible for serious abuses will be held to account.

We reiterate our desire to meet with representatives of the government in Ethiopia or elsewhere to discuss our research findings, and welcome specific information on your efforts to meaningfully investigate allegations of abuses, hold perpetrators to account, and provide redress for victims.

Sincerely,

Lotte Leicht
EU Director
Human Rights Watch

Human Rights Watch: Ethiopia: State of Emergency Risks New Abuses October 31, 2016

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Ethiopia: State of Emergency Risks New Abuses

Directive Codifies Vague, Overbroad Restrictions


(HRW, Nairobi,  31 October 2016) –An Ethiopian government directive under a state of emergency contains overly broad and vague provisions that risk triggering a human rights crisis, Human Rights Watch said today in a legal analysis. The government should promptly repeal or revise all elements of the directive that are contrary to international law.

A woman cries as she attends a prayer session at Biftu Bole Lutheran Church during a prayer and candle ceremony for those who died in the town of Bishoftu during Ireecha, the thanksgiving festival for the Oromo people, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, October 9, 20

A woman cries as she attends a prayer session at Biftu Bole Lutheran Church during a prayer and candle ceremony for those who died in the town of Bishoftu during Ireecha, the thanksgiving festival for the Oromo people, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, October 9, 2016.

On October 9, 2016, the government announced a six-month state of emergencyfollowing the destruction of some government buildings and private property by demonstrators. Over the past year, security forces have killed hundreds of protesters and detained tens of thousands in two regions where there have been numerous protests over government policies.“Ethiopia’s state of emergency bans nearly all speech that the government disagrees with anywhere in the country for at least six months,” said Felix Horne, senior Africa researcher at Human Rights Watch. “The state of emergency hands the army new sweeping powers to crack down on demonstrators, further limiting the space for peaceful dissent.”

Under the new state of emergency, the army can be deployed country-wide for at least six months. The implementing directive prescribes draconian restrictions on freedom of expression, association, and assembly that go far beyond what is permissible under international law and signal an increased militarized response to the situation. The directive effectively codifies many of the security forces’ abusive tactics that Human Rights Watch has documented since the protests began.

The directive includes far-reaching restrictions on sharing information on social media, watching diaspora television stations, and closing businesses as a gesture of protest, as well as curtailing opposition parties’ ability to communicate with the media. It specifically bans writing or sharing material via any platform that “could create misunderstanding between people or unrest.”

It bans all protests without government permission and permits arrest without court order in “a place assigned by the command post until the end of the state of emergency.” It also permits “rehabilitation” – a euphemism for short-term detention often involving physical punishment. Many of these restrictions are country-wide and not limited to the two of Ethiopia’s nine regions where most of the unrest took place.

Under international law, during a state of emergency a government may only suspend certain rights to the extent permitted by the “exigencies of the situation.” Many of the measures, including the restrictions on freedom of expression, assembly, and association go far beyond what is permitted under international law.

The government reports that since the state of emergency began, 1,600 people have been arrested, including about 50 for closing their businesses. Human Rights Watch also has received unconfirmed reports of unlawful killings, mass arrests, and looting of houses and businesses by the security forces. There have been some armed clashes between security forces and unidentified groups. Mobile phone access to the internet has been blocked since October 5. Addis Standard, a monthly English language magazine and one of the few independent publications left in Ethiopia, announced on October 25 that it was halting publication of its print edition due to state-of-emergency restrictions.

Large-scale, and mainly peaceful anti-government protests have been sweeping through Oromia, Ethiopia’s largest region, since November 2015, and the Amhara region since July 2016. Ethiopian security forces have killed more than 500 people during protests over the last year. These protests occurred in a context of the near-total closure of political space.

Protesters have voiced a variety of concerns, including issues related to development, the lack of political space, the brutality of the security forces, and domination of economic and political affairs by people affiliated with the ruling party. The emergency measures send a strong and chilling message that rather than dealing with expressed grievances and ensuring accountability for violence by both government forces and protesters, the government will continue and probably escalate the militarized response.

On October 2, in Bishoftu, a town 40 kilometers southeast of the capital, Addis Ababa, tensions ignited at the annual Irreecha festival – an important Oromo cultural event that draws millions of people each year. Security forces confronted huge crowds with tear gas and fired shots and scores of people then died during a stampede. Since then, alleged demonstrators have damaged a number of government buildings and private businesses perceived to be close to the ruling party, setting some on fire.

The government has in part blamed human rights groups seeking to document violations of international law for the recent unrest. Human Rights Watch has repeatedly called for an independent and credible investigation into the security force response to the protests and to the deaths in Bishoftu.

“Many of the abuses committed by security forces since November 2015 have now been codified under the state of emergency,” Horne said. “Trying to use the legal cover of a state of emergency as a pretext for the widespread suspension of rights not only violates the government’s international legal obligations, but will exacerbate tensions and long-term grievances, and risks plunging Ethiopia into a greater crisis.”

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Human Rights Watch: Anger Boiling Over in Ethiopia Declaration of State of Emergency Risks Further Abuses. #OromoProtests October 15, 2016

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Anger Boiling Over in Ethiopia


Declaration of State of Emergency Risks Further Abuses

Felix HorneSenior Researcher, Horn of Africa,   Human Rights Watch, 11  October 2016,


On October 9, the Ethiopian government declared a country-wide six-month state of emergency. It has been a bloody year for Ethiopia, and the past few weeks have been no different.

Scores of people – possibly hundreds – died in a stampede on October 2 in Bishoftu, Oromia region, fleeing security force gunfire and teargas during the annual Irreecha harvest festival, important for the country’s 40 million ethnic Oromos. This was the latest lethal crackdown by the government, which has suppressed hundreds of protests across Oromia that grew out of opposition to development plans around the capital, Addis Ababa, last November.

Protestors run from tear gas launched by security personnel during the Irecha, the thanks giving festival of the Oromo people in Bishoftu town of Oromia region, Ethiopia, October 2, 2016.

Protestors run from tear gas launched by security personnel during the Irecha, the thanks giving festival of the Oromo people in Bishoftu town of Oromia region, Ethiopia, October 2, 2016. © 2016 Reuters

While the vast majority of those protests have been peaceful, anger boiled over last week after the deaths at Irreecha. In Oromia, protesters attacked government buildings and private businesses perceived to be close to the ruling party, setting some on fire.

Now, under the state of emergency – declared on state television – the army will be deployed country-wide. Intensifying the military’s role in responding to the protests is sure to fuel the escalating anger in Oromia.

From the hundreds of interviews Human Rights Watch has carried out with protesters, witnesses and victims since the protests began, it is clear that each act of brutality by the military – the same military now tasked with restoring law and order – further emboldens the protest movement.

The government’s announcement indicates that it does not intend to reverse course, away from the use of force and towards engagement with communities about their grievances. Instead it seems determined to use force to suppress free expression and peaceful assembly.

Until Ethiopians can voice their views about critical issues such as development and governance, anger and frustration will likely continue, plunging the country into further uncertainty and possibly toward an even more dire and irreversible human rights crisis.


 

Human Rights Watch: Q&A: Recent Events and Deaths at the Irreecha Festival in Ethiopia October 8, 2016

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Q&A: Recent Events and Deaths at the Irreecha Festival in Ethiopia

Security officials watch as demonstrators chant slogans while flashing the protest gesture during Irreecha, the thanksgiving festival of the Oromo people, in Bishoftu town, Oromia region, Ethiopia, on October 2, 2016.

Security officials watch as demonstrators chant slogans while flashing the protest gesture during Irreecha, the thanksgiving festival of the Oromo people, in Bishoftu town, Oromia region, Ethiopia, on October 2, 2016.

The following questions and answers are critical to understanding recent events inEthiopia. Responses are written by Felix Horne, senior Ethiopia researcher at Human Rights Watch. The Human Rights Watch analysis of the situation is informed by 15 interviews with people who witnessed and lived through the events of October 2, 2016, as well as hundreds of other interviews with people caught up in violent government responses to protests across Ethiopia in the past year.

  1. What is Irreecha and what happened on Sunday, October 2 during Irreecha?
  2. The government said 50 people died, while the opposition says 678. Why is there such a disparity in the numbers?
  3. Did security forces violate international laws or guidelines on the use of force in Irreecha?
  4. Why is an independent, international investigation important? Isn’t it the government’s responsibility to investigate?
  5. How has the government responded to the October 2 deaths in Bishoftu?
  6. What are protesters telling Human Rights Watch about the government response to the protests and about what they want now?
  7. What should the government be doing?
  8. What should Ethiopia’s key international allies, such as the US, UK and EU, do to help ensure improved human rights in Ethiopia?
  1. What is Irreecha and what happened on Sunday, October 2 during Irreecha?

Irreecha is the most important cultural festival to Ethiopia’s 40 million ethnic Oromos who gather to celebrate the end of the rainy season and welcome the harvest season. Millions gather each year at Bishoftu, 40 kilometers southeast of Addis Ababa.

This week, people spoke of increased tension after year-long protests in Oromia. There was an increased presence of armed security forces in Bishoftu compared to previous years.

The government attempted to have a more visible role in the festivities this year. The government and the Abba Gadaas, the council of Oromo traditional leaders, held extensive negotiations about the arrangements for the festival. At the festival, tensions within the massive crowd built when government officials appeared on stage and even more so when the current Abba Gadaas were not present on stage. Instead, a retired Abba Gadaa who is perceived to be closely aligned with the government took to the stage.

A military helicopter flying low overhead increased public concern about the government’s intentions, according to witnesses. Eventually, a man went on stage and led the crowd in anti-government chants. The crowd grew more restless, more people went on stage, and then security forces fired teargas and people heard gunshots.

The security forces have used live ammunition while confronting and attempting to disperse numerous public gatherings in Oromia for almost a year. As Human Rights Watch has  documented in many of those protests, teargas preceded live ammunition, so when the pattern seemed to be repeating itself at Irreecha, panic very quickly set in. People ran and fell into nearby ditches, while others were trampled in the ensuring chaos.

  1. The government said 50 people died, while the opposition says 678. Why is there such a disparity in the numbers?

The Ethiopian government makes it extremely difficult to investigate these types of incidents. The government limits independent media and restricts nongovernmental organizations, both domestic and international, so that currently no one has had the access, expertise or impartiality necessary to determine a precise, credible death toll. Making things worse, over the last few days, the government has restricted internet access, as it has done intermittently throughout the protests.

Based on the information from witnesses and hospital staff Human Rights Watch has spoken to, it is clear that the number of dead is much higher than government estimates. But without access to morgues and families who lost loved ones, and with many people unwilling to speak for fear of reprisals, it is impossible to come up with a credible total. Anecdotal reports from some hospital staff indicate high numbers of dead, but they are also under pressure to keep silent. There are numerous reports of medical staff not being permitted to speak, or being pressured to underreport deaths. They may also have had limited access to the bodies. During the last 12 months, Human Rights Watch hasdocumented several arrests of medical staff for speaking out about killings and beatings by security forces, or in some cases for treating injured protesters.

All of this underscores the need for independent international investigation to document who died and how they died in Bishoftu on October 2.

  1. Did security forces violate international laws or guidelines on the use of force in Irreecha?

As a crowd-control method, teargas should be used only when strictly necessary as a proportionate response to quell violence. International guidelines, such as the United Nations Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms, stipulate that the police are expected to use discretion in crowd control tactics to ensure a proportionate response to any threat of violence, and to avoid exacerbating the situation. Police should exercise restraint when using teargas in situations when its use could cause death or serious injury.

The witnesses all said the crowds were not violent, but they were clearly protesting against the government. Witnesses said they believed security forces fired guns into the crowd in addition to in the air but there is thus far no corroborated evidence of people hit by gunfire – but restrictions on access make it impossible to say for sure.

Based on the information Human Rights Watch has, it appears that the security forces’ use of force was disproportionate. To the extent that this force was used to disperse protests rather than in response to a perceived threat posed by the crowds, it may also have constituted a violation of the rights to free expression and assembly. The research leads us to the conclusion that the security forces’ disproportionate response triggered the stampede that resulted in so many deaths.

  1. Why is an independent, international investigation important? Isn’t it the government’s responsibility to investigate?

Yes, ideally the Ethiopian government should investigate. In the past, it has conducted investigations into alleged abuses by security forces that were neither impartial nor credible. Ethiopia’s Human Rights Commission presented an oral report to parliament in June about the protests over the last year, saying the security force response was in all cases proportionate to a threat posed by demonstrators. That conclusion is contrary to the findings of Human Rights Watch and other independent groups that have looked into recent events. It is very clear that security forces consistently used live ammunition to disperse protests, killing hundreds of people. The government’s findings have further increased tensions, underscoring concerns protesters have voiced about lack of justice and accountability.

The lack of credibility of government investigations into the brutal crackdown and the scale of the crimes being committed are a compelling argument for the need for an independent, international investigation into those events and the events on October 2. Ethiopia’s international allies should be pushing hard for this.

Despite growing calls from the EU and from the UN’s most important human rights official, the government has strongly resisted the calls for international investigations. The government has a history of resisting outside scrutiny of its rights record. Access has been requested by 11 special procedures of the United Nations Human Rights Council since 2007, and all were refused except for the special rapporteur on Eritrea. On one hand the government wants to play a leadership role on the world stage, as seen in its membership on the Human Rights Council and the UN Security Council; but on the other it has resisted any international involvement in its own affairs.

  1. How has the government responded to the deaths in Bishoftu?

The government has been blaming “anti-peace elements” for the deaths, which continues to increase the people’s anger throughout Oromia. The government should instead allow an independent investigation and then acknowledge and ensure accountability for any abuses committed by its security forces. It should also demonstrate a commitment to respecting human rights by creating a forum to listen to protesters’ grievances in Oromia and other parts of Ethiopia. The protesters say that this is about rights denied: security force killings, arrests and torture, economic marginalization, and decades of grievances. Recent protests and the ensuing violence are not about social media trouble makers, or interference from neighboring Eritrea, as the government often contends when abuses come to light.

  1. What are protesters telling Human Rights Watch about the government response to the protests and about what they want now?

Over the last year, protesters have often told me that each killing by security forces increased their anger and determination. And the fear that was very present in Oromia and elsewhere in Ethiopia is dissipating. Some protesters say they feel they have nothing left to lose. I hear from one man each time he is released from detention. He has been arrested four times during the protests, including once when he was held in a military camp. He says he has never been charged with any crimes, has never seen a court room, and has been beaten each time he has been detained. He told me that in the military camp, soldiers stripped him down to his underwear, hung him upside down and whipped him. His brother was killed in a protest, his father arrested, and two of his closest friends have disappeared. I asked him why he keeps protesting despite the risks, and he said: “We have nothing else to lose. Better to go down standing up for our rights than end up dead, disappeared, or in jail.” I hear similar statements from many protesters, particularly the youth.

While the last year’s protests have been largely peaceful, more and more people are telling me that approach has run its course, that when you protest lawfully and peacefully and are met with bullets, arrests, and beatings, and little is said or done internationally, there is little incentive to continue that approach. Bekele Gerba, a staunch advocate for non-violence and deputy-chairman of the main registered opposition party in Oromia, is in detention and is on trial under the antiterrorism law. Treating those who advocate or engage in non-violent acts as criminals or terrorists sends a very dangerous message.

  1. What should the government be doing?

It seems clear that force will not suppress the protesters’ movement and has in fact emboldened it. When the government is willing to tolerate the free expression of dissent, allow peaceful assemblies, and engage in a genuine dialogue with protesters, it will help to end this crisis.

Most of the several hundred protesters interviewed in depth over the past year have a lengthy list of people close to them who have been arrested, killed, or disappeared, in addition to their own trauma. Older people have similar lists going back many years. Ethiopia needs accountability to rebuild trust with its citizens. The government has had numerous chances to make concessions and address protesters’ concerns. At those times when it has done so, as in January when it cancelled the master plan that ignited the initial protests, the action was taken far too late and done in a way that protesters did not consider credible.

In terms of immediate steps, the government should permit peaceful protests, ensure that no protests are met with excessive force, release those arbitrarily detained, and address grievances including ensuring respect for freedom of assembly, expression and association. This is what we have heard from the hundreds of protesters we have interviewed in the last year.

  1. What should Ethiopia’s key international allies, such as the US, UK and EU, do to help ensure improved human rights in Ethiopia?

For too long Ethiopia’s major international partners have not adequately raised serious concerns about the complete closure of political space in Ethiopia that has led to an inability to express dissent. At this point they need to take urgent action to ensure that the situation does not further spiral out of control. They should push for an independent international investigation. They should push for those arbitrarily detained to be released. And they should reiterate in the strongest way that lawful peaceful protests should be allowed to occur without the threat of bullets and mass arrests. They have leverage, and they should use it more effectively.
For more background:

On Ethiopia’s general human rights situation, see 2016 World Report on Ethiopia

On the human rights abuses during the Oromo protest, see “Such a Brutal Crackdown”(2016)

On Ethiopia’s repressive media environment, see “Journalism is Not a Crime” (2015)

On the history of abuses in Oromia, see “Suppressing Dissent, Human Rights Abuses and Political repression in Ethiopia’s Oromia Region” (2005) and Amnesty International’s 2014 report

On torture in Ethiopia, see “They Want a Confession”

On the need for an international investigation into the crackdowns, see “Ethiopia’s Bloody Crackdown: The Case for International Justice”

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Human Rights: Oromia: Dispatches: Ethiopia’s Opposition Leaders on Hunger Strike. #OromoProtests July 29, 2016

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Dispatches: Ethiopia’s Opposition Leaders on Hunger Strike

Protesting Against Mistreatment in Prison


Felix Horne
Researcher, Horn of Africa 

(Human Rights Watch) — It has been nine days since prominent Ethiopian opposition leader Bekele Gerba and several other senior members of the Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC) went on a hunger strike to protest their treatment in detention. Bekele, who is the deputy chairman of the OFC, and his colleagues are currently being held in Kilinto prison near Addis Ababa on terrorism charges. Their health has reportedly deteriorated significantly in recent days.

Bekele Gerba p1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bekele and his associates were detained on December 23, 2015 and latercharged under Ethiopia’s terrorism law for allegedly belonging to the banned Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) – a charge that is regularly used to silence ethnic Oromos who are critical of the government. They were first taken to the notorious Maekalawi prison, where torture and other ill-treatment are routine. Since moving to Kilinto, Bekele and his colleagues have repeatedly petitioned the courts to investigate their mistreatment in detention, to allow their families visiting rights, and to provide them with proper medication.

Bekele is a staunch advocate of non-violence and is one of tens of thousands who were detained during the mostly peaceful proteststhat have swept through Oromia since November. Many of those who have since been released reported being tortured in custody.

Since the protests began, the security forces have killed over 400 people, most of them students. Yet, there has been no meaningful investigation into the killings and no effort to hold security forces accountable. Instead, the state-affiliated Human Rights Commission in an oral report to parliament in June concluded that the level of force used by security forces was proportionate to the risk the forces faced, sending an ominous message to Ethiopians that security force members can shoot unarmed protesters with impunity.

As it is clear that the Ethiopian government is either not willing or not able to conduct a credible investigation into the conduct of its security forces, there is increasing need for international involvement in any investigation.

Unfortunately, the authorities’ failure to treat Bekele and his colleagues with the most basic respect for their rights is indicative of a government that shows little willingness to right the wrongs it has committed. Their continued detention sends a message to young Ethiopians that the government equates peaceful protest with terrorism, putting Ethiopia on a dangerous trajectory.


https://www.hrw.org/news/2016/07/28/dispatches-ethiopias-opposition-leaders-hunger-strike

HRW: UN Human Rights Council: Item 4 General Debate June 22, 2016

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UN Human Rights Council: Item 4 General Debate

(HRW) — Human Rights Watch is deeply concerned about several human rights situations that have either been inadequately addressed by this Council, or on which the Council has remained largely silent.

Bangladesh has taken an ever-increasing turn to authoritarianism in recent years. The authorities have engaged in mass arrests of opposition members – numbering in the thousands – and have cracked down on civil society groups, opposition media houses, editors, and journalists. Impunity for the security forces remains the norm, as alleged abuses by government forces go unchecked. The government’s initial response to the machete killings of over 50 people was to warn these victims to exercise self-censorship, even going so far as to prosecute four bloggers for “hurting religious sentiment.” In the past week, the authorities have taken a more determined turn in responding to these killings, but instead of investigating and prosecuting in a careful, measured manner, have fallen back on old patterns and arrested 15,000 people, many, it seems, arbitrarily. We urge Member States to raise this concerning situation at the Council and directly with the government.

In Ethiopia, state security forces have killed more than 400 protesters since November 2015, during largely peaceful protests in its largest region of Oromia. Many of those killed were students. Tens of thousands of people have been detained, and many of those remain in detention without charge. More broadly, Ethiopia continues to criminalize peaceful expression of dissent through severe restrictions on independent media, independent civil society, and misuse of its antiterrorism law. Torture and ill-treatment in detention continues to be a serious concern. We call for an independent and impartial investigation into the use of excessive force and other serious abuses by security forces in Oromia. As a Human Rights Council member – and vice-president – Ethiopia is required to cooperate with the Council and its mechanisms. Yet it has not accepted requests by numerous Special Procedures to visit over the past decade. We urge the government to do so as a matter of priority.

In Thailand, since the military coup in May 2014, the ruling National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) has carried out policies and actions without any effective oversight or accountability. A current draft constitution, written by a junta-appointed committee, endorses unaccountable military domination of governance even after a new government takes office. Regardless of its pledges to respect human rights, the junta—led by Prime Minister Gen. Prayut Chan-ocha—has banned political activity and public gatherings; made expression subject to criminal prosecution; conducted hundreds of arbitrary arrests; and held civilian detainees in military detention. Public debates and open opposition to the draft constitution, on which a referendum is scheduled for August 7, 2016, are prohibited. Military courts are regularly used to try civilians, particularly dissidents and alleged lese majeste offenders. In southern border provinces, serious abuses by all sides continue unabated in the fighting between separatist groups and security forces. The killing and enforced disappearance of human rights defenders and other activists, as well as reprisals via politically motivated criminal litigation, remain a pressing concern across Thailand. Millions of migrant workers face systematic abuse. Asylum seekers, having no legal avenue to bring their claims, are subject to arrest and deportation.

Finally, the armed conflict in Yemenhas been marked by serious violations of international law and an absence of accountability. The Saudi-led coalition has carried out numerous indiscriminate and disproportionate aerial attacks. Human Rights Watch alone documented 43 airstrikes that killed more than 670 civilians and 16 attacks involving indiscriminate cluster munitions. The Houthis and allied forces have fired weapons indiscriminately into civilian areas, recruited children, and laid anti-personnel landmines. The conflict has taken a terrible toll, with more than 3,500 civilians killed and 82 percent of the population needing humanitarian assistance. The Human Rights Council should establish an international me­chanism to investigate violations by all parties to the conflict.


https://www.hrw.org/news/2016/06/22/un-human-rights-council-item-4-general-debate

UNPO: Oromo: HRW Report Highlights Ethiopian Government’s Excessive Use of Force in the #OromoProtests June 20, 2016

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Oromo: HRW Report Highlights Ethiopian Government’s Excessive Use of Force in the Oromo Protests

UNPO, 16  June 2016

Freedom for Oromo People, #OromoProtests

A report published by Human Rights Watch [June 2016] reveals that the Ethiopian security forces have killed more than 400 by using excessive and unnecessary lethal force in the peaceful protests in the Oromia region, since November 2015. Many have also been arrested and mistreated in prison, and have been restricted in access to information by the Ethiopian government in order to supress the protest movement. Human Rights Watch urges the Ethiopian government to immediately free those who have been wrongfully detained and to start an independent investigation to hold the security forces accountable for abuses. 

Below is an article published by Human Rights Watch

 

(Nairobi) – Ethiopian security forces have killed more than 400 protesters and others, and arrested tens of thousands more during widespread protests in the Oromia region since November 2015. The Ethiopian government should urgently support a credible, independent investigation into the killings, arbitrary arrests, and other abuses.

The 61-page report. “‘Such a Brutal Crackdown’: Killings and Arrests in Response to Ethiopia’s Oromo Protests,” details the Ethiopian government’s use of excessive and unnecessary lethal force and mass arrests, mistreatment in detention, and restrictions on access to information to quash the protest movement. Human Rights Watch interviews in Ethiopia and abroad with more than 125 protesters, bystanders, and victims of abuse documented serious violations of the rights to free expression and peaceful assembly by security forces against protesters and others from the beginning of the protests in November 2015 through May 2016.

“Ethiopian security forces have fired on and killed hundreds of students, farmers, and other peaceful protesters with blatant disregard for human life,” said Leslie Lefkow, deputy Africa director at Human Rights Watch. “The government should immediately free those wrongfully detained, support a credible, independent investigation, and hold security force members accountable for abuses.”

Human Rights Watch found that security forces used live ammunition for crowd control repeatedly, killing one or more protesters at many of the hundreds of protests over several months. Human Rights Watch and other organizations have identified more than 300 of those killed by name and, in some cases, with photos.

The November protests were triggered by concerns about the government’s proposed expansion of the capital’s municipal boundary through the Addis Ababa Integrated Development Master Plan. Protesters feared that the Master Plan would displace Oromo farmers, as has increasingly occurred over the past decade, resulting in a negative impact on farm communities while benefiting a small elite.

As protests continued into December, the government deployed military forces for crowd-control throughout Oromia. Security forces repeatedly fired live ammunition into crowds with little or no warning or use of non-lethal crowd-control measures. Many of those killed have been students, including children under 18.

The federal police and military have also arrested tens of thousands of students, teachers, musicians, opposition politicians, health workers, and people who provided assistance or shelter to fleeing students. While many detainees have been released, an unknown number remain in detention without charge and without access to legal counsel or family members.

Witnesses described the scale of the arrests as unprecedented. Yoseph, 52, from the Wollega zone, said: “I’ve lived here for my whole life, and I’ve never seen such a brutal crackdown. There are regular arrests and killings of our people, but every family here has had at least one child arrested.”

Former detainees told Human Rights Watch that they were tortured or mistreated in detention, including in military camps, and several women alleged that they were raped or sexually assaulted. Some said they were hung by their ankles and beaten; others described having electric shocks applied to their feet, or weights tied to their testicles. Video footage shows students being beaten on university campuses. Despite the large number of arrests, the authorities have charged few individuals with any offenses. Several dozen opposition party members and journalists have been charged under Ethiopia’s draconian anti-terrorism law, while 20 students who protested in front of the United States embassy in Addis Ababa in March were charged with various offenses under the criminal code.

Access to education – from primary school to university – has been disrupted in many locations because of the presence of security forces in and around schools, the arrest of teachers and students, and many students’ fear of attending class. Authorities temporarily closed schools for weeks in some locations to deter protests. Many students told Human Rights Watch that the military and other security forces were occupying campuses and monitoring and harassing ethnic Oromo students.

There have been some credible reports of violence by protesters, including the destruction of foreign-owned farms, looting of government buildings, and other destruction of government property. However, the Human Rights Watch investigations into 62 of the more than 500 protests since November found that most have been peaceful.

The Ethiopian government’s pervasive restrictions on independent human rights investigations and media have meant that very little information is coming from affected areas. The Ethiopian government has also increased its efforts to restrict media freedom. Since mid-March [2016] it has restricted access to Facebook and other social media. It has also restricted access to diaspora television stations.

In January, the government announced the cancellation of the Master Plan. By then, however, protester grievances had widened due to the brutality of the government response.

While the protests have largely subsided since April, the government crackdown has continued, Human Rights Watch found. Many of those arrested over the past seven months remain in detention, and hundreds have not been located and are feared to have been forcibly disappeared. The government has not conducted a credible investigation into alleged abuses. Soldiers still occupy some university campuses and tensions remain high. The protests echo similar though smaller protests in Oromia in 2014, and the government’s response could be a catalyst for future dissent, Human Rights Watch said.

Ethiopia’s brutal crackdown warrants a much stronger, united response from concerned governments and intergovernmental organizations, including the United Nations Human Rights Council, Human Rights Watch said. While the European Parliament has passed a strong resolution condemning the crackdown and a resolution has been introduced in the United States Senate, these are exceptions in an otherwise severely muted international response to the crackdown in Oromia. The UN Human Rights Council should address these serious abuses, call for the release of those arbitrarily detained and support an independent investigation.

“Ethiopia’s foreign supporters have largely remained silent during the government’s bloody crackdown in Oromia,” Lefkow said. “Countries promoting Ethiopia’s development should press for progress in all areas, notably the right to free speech, and justice for victims of abuse.”

http://unpo.org/article/19259

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HRW: Ethiopia: Protest Crackdown Killed Hundreds. #OromoProtests June 16, 2016

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HRW: Ethiopia: Protest Crackdown Killed Hundreds

Free Wrongfully Held Detainees, Independent Inquiry Needed

“Such a Brutal Crackdown, killings and arrests in response to Ethiopia’s Oromo Protests (1)

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(Nairobi) – Ethiopian security forces have killed more than 400 protesters and others, and arrested tens of thousands more during widespread protests in the Oromia region since November 2015. The Ethiopian government should urgently support a credible, independent investigation into the killings, arbitrary arrests, and other abuses.

The 61-page report. “‘Such a Brutal Crackdown’: Killings and Arrests in Response to Ethiopia’s Oromo Protests,” details the Ethiopian government’s use of excessive and unnecessary lethal force and mass arrests, mistreatment in detention, and restrictions on access to information to quash the protest movement. Human Rights Watch interviews in Ethiopia and abroad with more than 125 protesters, bystanders, and victims of abuse documented serious violations of the rights to free expression and peaceful assembly by security forces against protesters and others from the beginning of the protests in November 2015 through May 2016.

Ethiopian security forces have killed more than 400 protesters and others, and arrested tens of thousands more during widespread protests in the Oromia region since November 2015.

“Ethiopian security forces have fired on and killed hundreds of students, farmers, and other peaceful protesters with blatant disregard for human life,” said Leslie Lefkow, deputy Africa director at Human Rights Watch. “The government should immediately free those wrongfully detained, support a credible, independent investigation, and hold security force members accountable for abuses.”

Human Rights Watch found that security forces used live ammunition for crowd control repeatedly, killing one or more protesters at many of the hundreds of protests over several months. Human Rights Watch and other organizations have identified more than 300 of those killed by name and, in some cases, with photos.

Interview:

Interview:

Ethiopia’s Bloody Crackdown on Peaceful Dissent, an interview with Ethiopia researcher Felix Horne

The November protests were triggered by concerns about the government’s proposed expansion of the capital’s municipal boundary through the Addis Ababa Integrated Development Master Plan. Protesters feared that the Master Plan would displace Oromo farmers, as has increasingly occurred over the past decade, resulting in a negative impact on farm communities while benefiting a small elite.

 

As protests continued into December, the government deployed military forces for crowd-control throughout Oromia. Security forces repeatedly fired live ammunition into crowds with little or no warning or use of non-lethal crowd-control measures. Many of those killed have been students, including children under 18.

The federal police and military have also arrested tens of thousands of students, teachers, musicians, opposition politicians, health workers, and people who provided assistance or shelter to fleeing students. While many detainees have been released, an unknown number remain in detention without charge and without access to legal counsel or family members.

 

Witnesses described the scale of the arrests as unprecedented. Yoseph, 52, from the Wollega zone, said: “I’ve lived here for my whole life, and I’ve never seen such a brutal crackdown. There are regular arrests and killings of our people, but every family here has had at least one child arrested.”

Former detainees told Human Rights Watch that they were tortured or mistreated in detention, including in military camps, and several women alleged that they were raped or sexually assaulted. Some said they were hung by their ankles and beaten; others described having electric shocks applied to their feet, or weights tied to their testicles. Video footage shows students being beaten on university campuses.

Despite the large number of arrests, the authorities have charged few individuals with any offenses. Several dozen opposition party members and journalists have been charged under Ethiopia’s draconian anti-terrorism law, while 20 students who protested in front of the United States embassy in Addis Ababa in March were charged with various offenses under the criminal code.

Ethiopian security forces have fired on and killed hundreds of students, farmers, and other peaceful protesters with blatant disregard for human life.

Leslie Lefkow

deputy Africa director

Access to education – from primary school to university – has been disrupted in many locations because of the presence of security forces in and around schools, the arrest of teachers and students, and many students’ fear of attending class. Authorities temporarily closed schools for weeks in some locations to deter protests. Many students told Human Rights Watch that the military and other security forces were occupying campuses and monitoring and harassing ethnic Oromo students.

There have been some credible reports of violence by protesters, including the destruction of foreign-owned farms, looting of government buildings, and other destruction of government property. However, the Human Rights Watch investigations into 62 of the more than 500 protests since November found that most have been peaceful.

The Ethiopian government’s pervasive restrictions on independent human rights investigations and media have meant that very little information is coming from affected areas. The Ethiopian government has also increased its efforts to restrict media freedom. Since mid-March it has restricted access to Facebook and other social media. It has also restricted access to diaspora television stations.

In January, the government announced the cancellation of the Master Plan. By then, however, protester grievances had widened due to the brutality of the government response.

While the protests have largely subsided since April, the government crackdown has continued, Human Rights Watch found. Many of those arrested over the past seven months remain in detention, and hundreds have not been located and are feared to have been forcibly disappeared. The government has not conducted a credible investigation into alleged abuses. Soldiers still occupy some university campuses and tensions remain high. The protests echo similar though smaller protests in Oromia in 2014, and the government’s response could be a catalyst for future dissent, Human Rights Watch said.

Ethiopia’s brutal crackdown warrants a much stronger, united response from concerned governments and intergovernmental organizations, including the United Nations Human Rights Council, Human Rights Watch said. While the European Parliament has passed a strong resolution condemning the crackdown and a resolution has been introduced in the United States Senate, these are exceptions in an otherwise severely muted international response to the crackdown in Oromia. The UN Human Rights Council should address these serious abuses, call for the release of those arbitrarily detained and support an independent investigation.

“Ethiopia’s foreign supporters have largely remained silent during the government’s bloody crackdown in Oromia,” Lefkow said. “Countries promoting Ethiopia’s development should press for progress in all areas, notably the right to free speech, and justice for victims of abuse.”

More Reading

Reports

https://www.hrw.org/africa/ethiopia

 

IBTimes: There is a violent repression in Ethiopia – so why is the UK government silent about it? #OromoProtests June 16, 2016

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Odaa Oromoo

 

There is a violent repression in Ethiopia – so why is the UK government silent about it?


By David Mepham By David Mepham, IBTimes  June 16, 2016


 

London, Oromo Peaceful rally in solidarity with #OromoProtests in Oromia against TPLF Ethiopian regime's ethnic cleansing (Master plan), December   10, 2015

Oromo community protest in London over ‘ethnic cleansing’

http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/there-violent-repression-ethiopia-so-why-uk-government-silent-about-it-1565781
Ethiopia: Oromo community protest in London over ‘ethnic cleansing’ IBTimes UK

 


The Ethiopian government is engaged in its bloodiest crackdown in a decade, but the scale of this crisis has barely registered internationally. According to Human Rights Watch, more than 400 people, including many children, have been killed by the country’s security forces in Oromia, Ethiopia’s largest region, with lethal force unleashed against largely peaceful, student-led protests.

For the past seven months, security forces have fired live ammunition into crowds and carried out summary executions. While students were first on the streets, many others have joined them, including teachers, musicians, opposition politicians and healthcare workers. Tens of thousands of people have been arrested, some of whom remain in detention without charge, and there are credible reports that detainees have been tortured or beaten – some of them in public. Hundreds of other people have been forcibly disappeared.

In normal circumstances, a crackdown on this scale would generate large-scale media attention and prompt strong international censure. But global media coverage has been very limited, in part because of Ethiopia’s draconian restrictions on media reporting and the difficulties journalists face in accessing the region. The response of governments internationally, including the British government, has also been extremely muted.

The reason for this is not a lack of information: diplomats in the country have a fairly good idea of what is going on in Oromia. Instead, it appears to be a flawed political calculation that the UK’s massive investment in Ethiopia’s development efforts (over 300 million pounds of aid is provided annually) would be undermined by public criticism or greater pressure on the government to rein in its abusive security forces.

The other obstacle is Ethiopia’s acute food crisis, where a severe drought – the worst since the famine of 1984-85 – has left 18 million people in need of aid. Global attention on this issue has led many governments around the world to overlook or downplay the other very urgent crisis unfolding in Oromia.

But these trade-offs are short-sighted and counter-productive. Ethiopia’s repression and its deepening authoritarianism hinder, rather than help, the country to combat food insecurity, promote development and tackle a range of other challenges. And they create the conditions for further instability and polarisation.

 

Ethiopia is struggling with its worst drought for 30 years. 2016

Ethiopia
Ethiopia is struggling with its worst drought for 30 years, with millions in dire need of life-saving aidGetty Images
Indeed, it was the very lack of respect for rights in the Ethiopian government’s approach to development that first triggered unrest in Oromia last November. The early protests were a response to the so-called ‘Addis Ababa Integrated Development Master Plan’, which proposed a 20-fold expansion of the municipal boundary of the capital.

Protesters objected that this top-down initiative from the government, introduced without meaningful consultation or participation of the affected communities, would displace thousands of ethnic Oromo farmers from land around the city. Those displaced by similar government initiatives over the past decade have rarely received compensation or new land on which to rebuild their lives – and protesters feared a repeat of this experience on a larger scale.

Mersen Chala, brother of Dinka Chala, who was killed by Ethiopian forces for protesting, but his family says he was not involved ,December 17, 2015, Oromia.

Dinka Chala
Mersen Chala, brother of Dinka Chala, who was killed by Ethiopian forces for protesting, but his family says he was not involved ,December 17, 2015, Oromia.Getty Images
Concerns were also expressed about mining and manufacturing projects in Oromia and their impact on the environment and access to water. In mid-January 2016, the government announced it had “cancelled” the Master Plan. But despite this, the government does not seem to have changed its approach (it is still marketing land to investors, for example), there has been no let-up in the repression, and the protests continue. The government’s violent response and the rising death toll have further inflamed the situation and decades of historic Oromo grievances around cultural, economic and political marginalisation have come to the fore.

With or without the plan, the forced displacement of farmers looks likely to continue – as it has in many parts of Ethiopia – unless the Ethiopian government fundamentally changes its approach to development. That would mean treating communities as genuine partners in the development process, meaningfully consulting them, and allowing them to shape development projects. And it should mean opening up space for peaceful dissent and political opposition, as well as independent media.

In the short-term, the Ethiopian government could ease tensions by releasing all those arbitrarily arrested and imprisoned, establishing a credible independent investigation into the killings and other violations – with those responsible for abuses held to account – and it could start a dialogue with the Oromo community about their legitimate grievances that have fuelled these protests.

But given the awful rights record of the government in Addis this seems highly improbable without stronger international pressure. As a major development partner to Ethiopia – including support for work in the Oromia region itself – the British government should use its leverage more assertively and help galvanise a concerted international response – one which highlights, to the Ethiopian government, the cost of its ongoing repression. And it should press the Ethiopians to pursue a development strategy that respects human rights, rather than tramples all over them.


David Mepham is UK Director of Human Rights Watch


http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/there-violent-repression-ethiopia-so-why-uk-government-silent-about-it-1565781


HRW: Dispatches: Using Courts to Crush Dissent in Ethiopia. #OromoProtests May 11, 2016

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Dispatches: Using Courts to Crush Dissent in Ethiopia

(HRW) — For the past six months, thousands of people have taken to the streets in Ethiopia’s largest region, Oromia, to protest alleged abuses by their government. The protests, unprecedented in recent years, have seen Ethiopia’s security forces use lethal force against largely peaceful protesters, killing hundreds and arresting tens of thousands more.

The government is inexorably closing off ways for Ethiopians to peacefully express their grievances, not just with bullets but also through the courts. In recent weeks, the Ethiopian authorities have lodged new, politically motivated charges against prominent opposition politicians and others, accusing them of crimes under Ethiopia’s draconian counterterrorism law.

Just last week, Yonatan Tesfaye Regassa, the head of public relations for the opposition Semayawi Party (the Blue Party), was charged with “planning, preparation, conspiracy, incitement and attempt” of a terrorist act. The authorities citied Yonatan’s Facebook posts about the protests as evidence; he faces 15 years to life in prison, if convicted.

#OromoProtests in Oromia, December 2015

In April, Bekele Gerba, deputy chairman of the Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC), Oromia’s largest registered political party, and 21 others, including many senior OFC members, were charged under the counterterrorism law, four months after their arrest on December 23, 2015. Bekele is accused of having links with the banned Oromo Liberation Front, a charge frequently used by the government to target ethnic Oromo dissidents and others. Deeply committed to nonviolence, Bekele has consistently urged the OFC to participate in elections despite the ruling party’s iron grip on the polls. Bekele and the others have described horrible conditions during their detention, including at thenotorious Maekalawi prison, where torture and other ill-treatment are routine.

The authorities also charged 20 university students under the criminal code for protesting in front of the United States Embassy in Addis Ababa in March, 2016. The “evidence” against them included a video of their protest and a list of demands, which included the immediate release of opposition leaders and others arrested for peaceful protests, and the establishment of an independent body to investigate and prosecute those who killed and injured peaceful protesters. They face three years in prison if convicted.

The Ethiopian government is sending a clear message when it charges peaceful protesters and opposition politicians like Bekele Gerba with terrorism. The message is that no dissent is tolerated, whether through social media, the electoral system, or peaceful assembly.


ODUU

Itoophiyaan Uummata mirga isaa gaafatu jumlaan akka hiituu fi ajjeestu Saaxilame.

OMN:Oduu Caamsaa 11,2016 Qorataan mirga dhala namaa kan gaanfa Afrikatti Qorannoo geggeessan Filex Horne dhiheenna kana ibsa baasaniin, mootummaan Itiyoophiyaa mormii biyyattii keessatti geggeeffama jiru dhaabsisuuf jecha, hidhaa filannoo taasifatee jira jedhan.

Qorataa waa’ee mirga dhala nama  ka ta’e Felix Horne, qorannoo isaa ta gaafa Afirkatti taasisee Caamsa 09, bara 2016 baasen, mormii ji’oota ja’an dabran geggeeffame irratti mootummaan Itiyoophiyaa lammiilee nagaa irratti tarkaanfii ajjeechaa raawwachuu dubbata.

Humnootii tikaa mootummaa tarkaanfii ajjeechaa geggeessaniin, namoonni dhibba hedduu yoo ajjeefaman, kumootatti kan laakkawaman ammoo hidhamuu isaanii Flex gabaasa isaa kanaan mirkaneessee jira.

Akka gabaasa kanaatti, mootummaan Itoophiyaa mormii guutuu Oromiyaa keessatti geggeeffame dura dhaabbachuuf jecha, tarkaanfii gara jabeennaa kana raawwachuun isaa sirrii akka hin taane Filex gabaasa isaa kanaan ibsee jira.

Dhiyeenna kana immoo dubbiin bifaa jijjiirattee, mormii tana dhaabsisuufi nama hidhuun filannoo duraa ta’uu dubbata.

Akka Filex jedhutti, torbaanuma dabree kana keessa paarti mormituu Blue Party jedhamutti, dura taa’aa hariiroo uummata kan ta’e obbo Yonaataan Tesfaaye Reggaasa, gochoota shororkeessumma karoorsuu, qindeessuu fi nama kakaasuu yaali gootee jechuun seera farra shororkeessummaatin himatan.

Akkaa ragaatti wanni irratti dhiyaate facebook irratti waa’ee mormi maxxansitee ka jedhuu yoo ta’uu, yakki kun ka isaa taanan hidhaa gannaa kudhan shaniitti(15) isa eeggata jedhaa Felix.

Ji’aa Eblaa ka dabre keessa hoogganoota paarti kongirasii Federalistii Oromoo kan ta’an, Obbo Beqalaa Garbaa fi, miseensota Paarti isaanii namoota 21fi daraggoota hedduu dabalatee, eegi murtii tokko malee ji’aa afur hidhamanii duubatti, seeraa shororkeessummaatiin himatamuu dubata.

Akka Felix Horne  gabaaasa qorannoo isaa irraatti tuqetti, obboo Baqqalaa Garbaa ka ittin himatamee, yakka walitti dhuffeenna Addaa Bilisummaa Oromootiin walin qabdan, ilaalcha uummanni Oromoo biyyitti keessatti hacuucaatu irra ga’a ka jedhuu fi, waan akkaa akkaatiin himatamee jedha.

Hata’uu malee obbo Baqqalaan adoo mootummaan biyya bulchaa jiru qawwee qabatee lammiitti roorrisaa jiruu, paartiin isaanii karaa nagaayaan filannoo geggeessu akka qabu gadi faggeennaan mormaa turee jedha.

Yoo mana hidha keessaa turanitti obbo Baqqalaa fi miseensonni isaalleen haala suukaneessaa keessaa jirachu, dubbachu isaanii himee, kun ammoo dhaanichaa fi dararamiinsa hamaa akka ofi keessa qabu ibsan.

Gamaa biraatiin mootummaan Itoophiyaa barattoota University namoota 20, gaafa baatii Bitotteessa bara 2016, Embassy United State ka Finfinnee jiru duratti mormii geggeesitan jechuun, seera yakkaatin himachuu isaallee dubbata.

Akkaa ragaatti wanni irratti dhiyaate, video mormii ka hoggantoota mormitoota fi namoota  nagaa ka hiriiraa bahuun hidhaman hatattamaan akka gadi dhiifaman gaafatuu fi, qaamni walaba hundeeffamee dhimma mormiin irratti ka’ee akka qorannoo geggeessu, gaafachuu isaanii dubbata.

Akka Felix Horne jedhutti, yoo yakki kun ka  isaanitti murtaa’u ta’ee, ijoollee tana tokko tokkoo isaanii hidhaa gannaa sadiittu eegata jedha.

Dhuma irratti mootummaan Itoophiyaa kana taasisuun isaa ergaa ifaa dabarsaa jedha felix.

Kun immoo, ammaan eegi karaa midiyaa hawaasaatiin ta’ee, kara sirna filannoo yokaan karaa nagaatilleen gurmaa’an mormuun, ka hin danda’amne ta’uu argisiisaa jedha.

Liiban Halaketiin.

Itoophiyaan Uummata mirga isaa gaafatu jumlaan akka hiituu fi ajjeestu Saaxilame.

Foreign Policy In Focus: Deafening Silence from Ethiopia:The Ethiopian government is cracking down on journalists and NGOs. Where’s the outrage from the international community? April 13, 2016

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Odaa Oromoohrwlogo#OromoProtests at Awaro Campus, Ambo, Oromia, 11 and April 2016 p2#OromoProtests in Limmuu Saqaa, Jimmaa, Oromia, 7 April 2016 p1#OromoProtests against the Ethiopian regime fascist tyranny. Join the peaceful movement for justice, democracy, development and freedom of Oromo and other oppressed people in Ethiopia

Deafening Silence from Ethiopia


Since November, state security forces have killed hundreds of protesters and arrested thousands in Oromia, Ethiopia’s largest region. It’s the biggest political crisis to hit the country since the 2005 election but has barely registered internationally. And with the protests now in their fifth month, there is an almost complete information blackout.

A teacher arrested in December told me, “In Oromia the world doesn’t know what happens for months, years or ever. No one ever comes to speak to us, and we don’t know where to find those who will listen to our stories.”

Part of the problem is the government’s draconian restrictions on news reporting, human rights monitoring, and access to information imposed over the past decade. But restrictions have worsened in the last month. Some social media sites have been blocked, and in early March security officials detained two international journalists overnight while they were trying to report on the protests. As one foreign diplomat told me, “It’s like a black hole, we have no idea what is happening. We get very little credible information.”

With difficulty, Human Rights Watch interviewed nearly 100 protesters. They described security forces firing randomly into crowds, children as young as nine being arrested, and Oromo students being tortured in detention. But the Ethiopian media aren’t telling these stories. It’s not their fault. Ethiopian journalists have to choose between self-censorship, prison, or exile. Ethiopia is one of the leading jailers of journalists on the continent. In 2014 at least 30 journalists fled the country and six independent publications closed down. The government intimidates and harasses printers, distributors, and sources.

International journalists also face challenges. Some do not even try to go because of the personal risks for them, their translators, and their sources. And when they do go, many Ethiopians fear speaking out against government policies—there are plenty of cases of people being arrested after being interviewed.

Diaspora-run television stations have helped fill the gap, including the U.S.-based Oromia Media Network (OMN). Many students in Oromia told me that OMN was one way they were able to learn what was happening in other parts of the region during the protests. But since OMN began broadcasting in March 2014 it has been jammed 15 times for varying periods. Radio broadcasts are also jammed–as international broadcasters like Voice of America and Deutsche Welle have experienced intermittently for years.

In December OMN began transmitting on a satellite that is virtually impenetrable to jamming. But security forces then began destroying private satellite dishes on people’s homes. Eventually the government applied pressure on the satellite company to drop OMN, which has now been off the air for over two months.

Social media has partially helped fill the information gap. Photos of injured students and videos of protests have been posted to Facebook, particularly in the early days of the protests. But in some locations the authorities have targeted people who filmed the protests on their phones. At various times in the last month, there have been reports of social media and file-sharing sites being blocked in Oromia, including Facebook, Twitter, and Dropbox. Website-blocking has been documented before – in 2013, at least 37 websites with information from Ethiopia were blocked. Most of the sites were operated by Ethiopians in the diaspora.

Independent non-governmental organizations that might be reporting what is happening face similar restrictions. The government’s Charities and Societies Proclamation of 2009 virtually gutted domestic nongovernmental organizations that work on human rights issues. The independent Human Rights Council released a report on the protests in March. It was a breath of fresh air, but the council released it at great risk. As the first report from Ethiopian civil society on an issue of great political significance, it was a damning indictment of the limits of freedom of expression in Africa’s second-largest country, with a population of 100 million.

The government may believe that by strangling the flow of information coming out of Oromia it can limit international concern and pressure. And so far the response from countries that support Ethiopia’s development has been muted. The deaths of hundreds, including many children, have largely escaped condemnation.

Yet the government’s brutally repressive tactics cannot be contained behind Ethiopia’s information firewall for long. The sooner the government recognizes this and acts to stop the mass arrests and excessive use of force, the better the outlook for the government and the affected communities.

The government—with the assistance of its allies and partners—needs to support an independent investigation of the events in Oromia, commit to accountability and justice for the victims, and start dismantling the legislative and security apparatus that has made Ethiopia one of the most hostile places for free expression on the continent. What’s happening in Oromia has long-term implications for Ethiopia’s stability and economic progress, and Ethiopians and the world need to know what is happening.

Felix Horne is the Ethiopia researcher at Human Rights Watch.


 

Deafening Silence from Ethiopia

https://www.hrw.org/news/2016/04/12/deafening-silence-ethiopia

UN Human Rights Council: General Debate under Item 4: Human Rights Crisis in Ethiopia March 15, 2016

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Odaa Oromoo#OromoProtests global solidarity rally organised by the Australian Oromo community in Melbourne, 10 March 2016 p2
No To Fascist TPLF Ethiopia's genocidal militarism and mass killings in Oromia, Ethiopia
Women mourn during the funeral ceremony of a primary school teacher who family members said was shot dead by military forces during protests in OromiaGaaffiiwwan yeroo ammaa#OromoProtests against the Ethiopian regime fascist tyranny. Join the peaceful movement for justice, democracy, development and freedom of Oromo and other oppressed people in Ethiopia

(HRW  15 March 2016) — A human rights crisis is taking place in Ethiopia. It has received little attention internationally but is the biggest political crisis to hit Ethiopia since the 2005 elections.

Protesters in Oromia region, Ethiopia.

Protesters in Oromia region, Ethiopia, December 2015.

Since November 12, 2015, protesters across Ethiopia’s Oromia region have been risking their lives and liberty in the face of a brutal—and sometimes lethal–response from security forces. Soldiers and police have used deadly force and killed several hundred peaceful protesters. We understand that thousands of people have been detained in official and secret detention facilities. While there have been some incidents of violent clashes and some members of the security forces have also been killed, the vast majority of the protests have been peaceful.

The protests were triggered by the so-called Addis Ababa Master Plan, which envisioned expansion of Addis Ababa’s municipal boundary 20-fold. Protesters raised concerns that ethnic Oromos living in the area of that boundary expansion would be displaced from their farms. Ethnic Oromos, who make up approximately 35 percent of Ethiopia’s population, have long felt politically marginalized and culturally discriminated against by successive governments.

The government’s cancellation of the master plan in January came weeks too late for many protesters, who have seen too many killed and arbitrarily arrested. Over the four months of the protests, Human Rights Watch has documented security forces firing into crowds of protesters with little or no warning, the arrests of students as young as 8, and the torture of protesters in detention. Security forces have also arrested teachers, artists, political opposition leaders, and other influential Oromos who they believe are mobilizing protesters.

Since 2009, the Ethiopian government has systematically restricted independent media and civil society groups, both domestic and international. As a result, there has been limited reporting on the crackdown and inadequate international attention to this ongoing crisis. These restrictions make it difficult to verify the death toll and scale of the crackdown. It is clear, however, that the crackdown is putting Ethiopia on a very dangerous trajectory that could endanger its long term stability and progress.

Human Rights Watch urges the Council to raise concerns over the serious abuses taking place in Oromia. The Council should call on the Ethiopian government to cease using excessive force against protesters and release everyone arbitrarily detained. The Council should also support an independent investigation into the killings and other abuses. Any investigation should include sufficient levels of international involvement to ensure it is independent, credible, and impartial. Thank you.


https://www.hrw.org/news/2016/03/15/un-human-rights-council-general-debate-under-item-4

 

 

Oromia: Ethiopia: Govt Accused of Bloody Crackdown On #OromoProtests February 26, 2016

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Odaa Oromoo#OromoProtests iconic pictureagazi-fascist-tplf-ethiopias-forces-attacking-unarmed-and-peaceful-oromoprotests-in-baabichaa-town-central-oromia-w-shawa-december-10-20151

Ethiopia: Govt Accused of Bloody Crackdown On Protesters

 

By All Africa and Al Jazzera,   22 February 2016

Ethiopian security forces are carrying out a brutal crackdown on peaceful protests in the country’s Oromia region and thousands of people are being held without charge, a human rights group has said.

The demonstrations began in November due to a government plan to expand the boundaries of Addis Ababa into Oromia, which surrounds the capital, raising fears among Oromo people that their farms would be expropriated.

Addis Ababa, which has accused the protesters of having links with “terror groups”, dropped the plan on January 12 and announced the situation in Oromia was largely under control.

The New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW), however, said the protests were continuing.

Ethiopia’s information minister, Getachew Reda, told Al Jazeera that he had not yet read the report and so could not comment on it.

HRW noted that researchers were unable to determine how many people have been killed or arrested because access to Oromia is restricted.

“[Ethiopian] activists allege that more than 200 people have been killed since November 12, 2015,” the rights group said.

In a previous document at the beginning of January, HRW reported at least 140 killings.

“Flooding Oromia with federal security forces shows the authorities’ broad disregard for peaceful protest by students, farmers, and other dissenters,” Leslie Lefkow, deputy Africa director at Human Rights Watch, said on Monday.

“The government needs to rein in the security forces, free anyone being held wrongfully, and hold accountable soldiers and police who used excessive force,” Lefkow added.

The rights group called on the Ethiopian government to end excessive use of force by its security forces, free everyone detained arbitrarily, and conduct an independent investigation into killings and other security force abuses.

The Oromos are the largest ethnic group in the horn of Africa country.

Ethiopia: Oromo protests will continue unless government ceases ‘killings and torture’

https://uk.news.yahoo.com/ethiopia-oromo-protests-continue-unless-112251659.html?soc_src=social-sh&soc_trk=fb

Ethiopia’s crackdown on land protests ongoing – rights group

 

 

http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/world/ethiopia-s-crackdown-on-l/2537982.html#.VsxcELyVBqn.twitter

PROTEST CRACKDOWNS: BEYOND THE BODY COUNT

Human Rights Watch: World Report 2016: Ethiopia: Events of 2015 January 27, 2016

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Agazi, fascist TPLF Ethiopia's forces attacking unarmed and peaceful #OromoProtests in Baabichaa town central Oromia (w. Shawa) , December 10, 2015

 

In Ethiopia in 2015 there were continuing government crackdowns on opposition political party members, journalists, and peaceful protesters, many of whom experienced harassment, arbitrary arrest, and politically motivated prosecutions.

The Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF), the ruling party coalition, won all 547 parliamentary seats in the May elections, due in part to the lack of space for critical or dissenting voices. Despite a few high-profile prisoner releases ahead of the June visit of United States President Barack Obama, there was no progress on fundamental reforms of the deeply repressive laws and policies constricting Ethiopian civil society organizations and media.

Elections and Political Space

May’s federal elections took place in a general atmosphere of intimidation, and concerns over the National Electoral Board’s lack of independence. Opposition parties reported that state security forces and ruling party cadres harassed and detained their members, while onerous registration requirements effectively put opposition candidates at a disadvantage.

Opposition parties reported that government officials regularly blocked their attempts to hold protests and rallies in the run-up to the election by denying permits, arresting organizers, and confiscating equipment.

These restrictions, alongside the absence of independent media and civil society, meant there was little opportunity for dissenting voices to be heard or meaningful political debate on key issues ahead of the elections.

Freedom of Peaceful Assembly

Eighteen individuals identified as leaders of the Muslim protest movement that swept across Ethiopia from 2012-2014 were convicted in July under the Anti-Terrorism Proclamation and sentenced in August to between 7 and 22 years each after closed, flawed trials. Authorities detained them in July 2012 when some Muslim communities were protesting against perceived government interference in their religious affairs.

An unknown number of ethnic Oromo students continued to be detained, many without charge, after protests throughout Oromia in April and May 2014 against the planned expansion of Addis Ababa’s municipal boundary into Oromia. Security personnel used excessive and at times lethal force, including live ammunition, against protesters in several cities, killing at least several dozen protesters, and arrested hundreds.

There have been no investigations by Ethiopian authorities into the deaths and the use of unlawful force. Those released said they were tortured or otherwise ill-treated in detention. Ethnic Oromos make up approximately 45 percent of Ethiopia’s population and are often arbitrarily arrested and accused of belonging to the banned Oromo Liberation Front (OLF).

Freedom of Expression and Association

Media remained under government stranglehold, with many journalists having to choose between self-censorship, harassment and arrest, or exile. At least 60 journalists have fled into exile since 2010. Tactics used to restrict independent media included targeting publishers, printing presses, and distributors.

The Ethiopian government’s systematic repression of independent media has created a bleak landscape for free expression ahead of the May 2015 general elections. In the past year, six privately owned publications closed after government harassment; at least 22 journalists, bloggers, and publishers were criminally charged, and more than 30 journalists fled the country in fear of being arrested under repressive laws.

In June, journalist Reeyot Alemu and five other journalists and bloggers from the Zone 9 blogging collective were released from prison ahead of President Obama’s visit to Ethiopia, On October 16, the remaining four imprisoned Zone 9 bloggers were acquitted of terrorism charges after 39 hearings and 539 days in detention. A fifth charged in absentia was also acquitted. Many other journalists, protesters, and other political opponents continued to be prosecuted under the Anti-Terrorism Proclamation, and many journalists including Eskinder Nega and Woubshet Taye remain in prison.

The 2009 Charities and Societies Proclamation (CSO law) continues to severely curtail the ability of independent nongovernmental organizations to work on human rights. The law bars work on human rights, good governance, conflict resolution, and advocacy on the rights of women, children, and people with disabilities if organizations receive more than 10 percent of their funds from foreign sources.

The government regularly monitors and records telephone calls of family members and friends of suspected opposition members and intercepts digital communications with highly intrusive spyware. Leaked emails from Milan-based Hacking Team, which sold spyware to the Ethiopian government, reveal that despite warnings of the risk of Ethiopia misusing their spyware, they issued a temporary license to Ethiopia while they began negotiations in April on a new contract worth at least US$700,000.

Torture and Arbitrary Detention

Ethiopian security personnel frequently tortured and otherwise ill-treated political detainees held in both official and secret detention centers to give confessions or provide information. At its UN Universal Periodic Review in 2014, Ethiopia accepted a recommendation to “adopt measures which guarantee the non-occurrence of cases of torture and ill-treatment in places of detention,” but there is little indication that security personnel are being investigated or punished for carrying out these abuses.

The Liyu police, a Somali Regional State paramilitary police force without a clear legal mandate, continued to commit serious human rights abuses in their ongoing conflict with the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) in Ethiopia’s Somali Region, with reports of extrajudicial killings, arbitrary detention, and violence against civilians who are accused of supporting or being sympathetic to the ONLF.

Andargachew Tsige, a United Kingdom citizen and secretary-general of the Ginbot 7 organization, a group banned for advocating armed overthrow of the government, remains in detention in Ethiopia after his unlawful 2014 deportation to Ethiopia from Yemen while in transit. He had twice been sentenced to death in absentia for his involvement with Ginbot 7. UK consular officials visited Andargachew only three times, amid growing concerns about his mistreatment in detention. In April, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention called on Ethiopia to release and compensate Andargachew.

Forced Displacement Linked to Development Programs

Some donors, including UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) and the World Bank, rechanneled funding from the problematic Protection of Basic Services (PBS) program in 2015. PBS was associated with the abusive “villagization program,” a government effort to relocate 1.5 million rural people into permanent villages, ostensibly to improve their access to basic services. Some of the relocations in the first year of the program in Gambella region in 2011 were accompanied by violence, including beatings and arbitrary arrests, and insufficient consultation and compensation.

Some Gambella residents filed a complaint in 2013 to the World Bank’s Inspection Panel, the institution’s independent accountability mechanism, alleging that the bank violated its own policies on indigenous people and involuntary resettlement. The Inspection Panel identified major shortcomings in the PBS program in its November 2014 recommendations, although the World Bank Board largely rejected the findings in February. A translator who worked with the Inspection Panel in Gambella was arrested in March and charged under the Anti-Terrorism Proclamation in September 2015.

In February, in the course of a court hearing on a complaint by an Ethiopian farmer that the UK violated its partnership principles by supporting the PBS program, DFID announced that it was ending support to the PBS program. DFID cited concerns over Ethiopia’s civil and political rights record, including concerns related to “freedom of expression and electoral competition, and continued concerns about the accountability of security services.”

There are ongoing reports of forced displacement from development projects in different regions, often with minimal or no compensation and little in the way of prior consultation with affected, often indigenous, communities. Allegations have arisen from commercial and industrial projects associated with Addis Ababa’s expansion and the continued development of sugar plantations in the Lower Omo Valley, which involves clearing 245,000 hectares of land that is home to 200,000 indigenous people. Communities in Omo have seen their grazing land cleared and have lost access to the Omo River, which they relied on for crops. Individuals who questioned the development plans were arrested and harassed.

Violent incidents, both between different ethnic groups and between the government and ethnic groups, increased in 2015 partly due to the growing competition for grazing land and other resources. The reservoir behind the Gibe III dam began filling in January 2015, reducing the annual natural flood that replenished the agricultural lands along the banks of the Omo River.

Key International Actors

Ethiopia enjoys strong support from foreign donors and most of its regional neighbors, based on its role as host of the African Union and strategic regional player, its contribution to UN peacekeeping, security and aid partnerships with Western countries, and its progress on development indicators. The African Union(AU)—the only international body that monitored the May elections—declared the elections “credible” despite the severe restrictions on opposition political parties, independent media, and civil society.

Ethiopia continued to facilitate negotiations between warring parties in South Sudan, and its troops maintained calm in the disputed Abyei Region. Ethiopia deploys troops inside Somalia as part of the AU mission, and in 2015 there were growing reports that abusive “Liyu police” forces were also deployed alongside the Ethiopian Defense Forces. Ethiopia continued to host hundreds of thousands of refugees from South Sudan, Somalia, and Eritrea.

Ethiopia is one of the largest recipients of donor aid in Africa, receiving almost $3 billion in 2015 despite allegations of human rights abuses associated with some development programs, including forced displacement in Gambella and the Omo Valley. There are no indications that donors have strengthened the monitoring and accountability provisions needed to ensure that their development aid does not contribute to or exacerbate human rights problems in Ethiopia.

Motumaan Itoopian humna dhiibaa fudhechuu itti fuufeera. Bara 2015 keessatti qofa miseensota dhaabbilee siyaasaa, gaazexessitoota, fi hiriirtota nagaa baay’inni isaanii gidiraa adda addaa, hidhaa akka malee, akkasumas hiraarfama ilaalcha siyaasa irraa ka’ee gaggeeffamaa tureef saaxilamuun isaanii itti fufeera.

Sababa qaamota sagalee addaa qaban irratti karaan cufameef Gamtaan dhaabota siyaasaa aangoo irra jiru, Addi Dimokraatawaa Warraaqsa Ummata Itoopiyaa (ADWUI), baatii Caamsaa keessa filannoo gaggeeffameen teessuma paarlaamaa 547 hunda moo’eera. Dhufaatii Prezedantiin biyya Amerikaa Baaraak Obaamaa dura hidhamtoota siyaasaa beekamoo muraasa gadhiisuu tiin alatti mirga bu’uraa dhala namaa, seerota, imaammata caasaawwan bilisaa ummataa fi midiyaa cunqursan fi akka hin malletti sochii dhorkuuf tolfaman ilaalchisee biyatii keesatti fooya’insi ta’e homa hinjiru.

Filannoo fi Waltajjii Siyaasaa

Filannoon sadarkaa Federaalaa Caamsaa sun akka waliigalaa tti doorsisa/sodaachisuun kan guutame, Boordiin Filannoo Biyyoolessaa bilisummaa haala hin qabne keessatti gaggeeffame. Gama tokkoon dhaabotni mormitootaa humni tikaa fi dabballeewwan dhaaba siyaasaa aangoo qabatee jiru akka miseensota isaanii dararan fi hidhan yoo gabaasan gama biraatiin ammoo sirni dorgomtoota galmeessisuu mormitoota irratti akka malee ulfaataa akka ta’u godhamee ture.

Dhaabotni mormitootaa yaroo filanaannan dhiyaate tti hiriira nagaa gaggeessuuf fi ummata sochoosuuf yaalii yaroo hedduu godhanillee angawootni mootummaa hayyama dhorkachuu, hidhuudhaan akka danqaa itti ta’an ibsu.

Qoqqobbiiwwan kunniin, midiyaan fi dhaabotni ummataa bilisa ta’an dhabamuu isaanii waliin wal qabatee, hiikni qabu sagaleen addaa akka hin dhagayamne ukkamsuu falmiin siyaasaa hiikaa qabu qabxiiwwan siyaasaa murteessoo irratti akka hin godhamne taasisu.

Mirga Walgayii Nagaa Gaggeessuu

Sochii Hiriira Musliima kan bara 2012-2014 Itoophiyaa guutuu keessatti qabate qindeessu jedhamanii namootni adda baafaman kudha saddet irratti baatii Adoolessaa keessa labsii farra shororkeessummaa jalatti himatni dhiyaatee, Hagayya keessa adabni hidhaa waggaa 7 fi 22, dhaddcha cufaa fi falmii karaa malee gaggeeffameen irratti murtaaye.  Angawootni mootummaa Adoolessa 2012 keessa yommu ummatni Musliimaa mootummaan dhimma amantii isaanii keessa galaa akka jiru fakkaatee mul’atetti mormii hiriira taasisu jalqabanitti aanee hidhamani.

Karoora Finfinnee gara Oromiyaatti babal’isuu waliin wal qabatee hiriira mormii Ebla fi Caamsaa 2014 eegaleen, barattoota Oromoo lakkoofsi isaanii hammana jedhanii himuu hin dandeenye, hedduun himata seeraa tokkoon alatti qabanii hidhuun itti fufeera.  Qaamotni tikaa humna akka malee ta’e, kan lubbuu namaa balaaf saaxiluu, rasaasa dabalatee, fayyadamuudhaan magaalaa hedduutti hiriirtota irratti dhukaasuun yoo xinnaate namoota kurnoota hedduutti lakkaayaman ajjeesaniiru, dhibbootatti kan lakkaayaman hidhaniiru.

Ajjeechaa fi humna seeraan ala fayyadamuu kana ilaalchisee angawoota mootummaa Itoophiyaatiin qorannaan gaggeeffame hin jiru. Kanneen hidhaa irraa gadhiifaman garuu akka reebaman ykn haala akka malee keessatti qabamanii akka turfaman ibsu. Ummata Itoophiyaa keessa % 45 kan ta’u Oromoo yoo ta’u, yaroo hedduu hidhaa akka hin malle kan saaxilame fi Adda Bilisummaa Oromo (ABO) dhaaba seeraan uggurman deeggara maqaa jedhuun kan himatamudha.

Mirga Yaada Ofii Ibsachuu fi Walgeettii

Miidiyaaleen mootummaa jalatti ukkamamamanii hojjechuu itti fufaniiru, gaazexessitootni hedduun of to’achuuf dirqamanii hojjetu ykn hiraarfamuu, hidhamuu fi biyyaa baqatanii baduu keessaa tokko filachuun dirqama itti ta’eera. Bara 2010 irraa eegalee yoo xinnaate gaazexessitootni 60 ta’an biyyaa badaniiru. Tarsiimoon midiyaalee bilisaa ukkaamsu kun barreessitootaa fi waldaalee maxxansitoota fi raabsitoota dabalata.

Baatii Waxabajjii keessa, gaazexessituu Riyoot Alamuu fi gamtaan bilogarota Zoonii 9 faa fi kanneen biroo shan do’ii Pirezedantiin Obaamaan Itophiyaatti godhe dura mana hidhaa irraa gadhiifaman.  Onkololeessa 16, bilogarota Zoonii 9 keessaa kanneen hidhaa keessatti hafanii turan fi labsii farra shororkeessummaa jalatti yakkamanii ballama 36 tiif mana murtii tti deddeebi’aa erga turaniin fi bulti 539 erga hidhamanii booda murtiin bilisa jedhamanii hiikamani. Inni shanaffaan bakka hin jirretti dhimmi isaa ilaalamaa tures bilisa ta’eera. Gaazexessitootni biroo hedduu, hirmaattotni hiriiraa, akkasumas mormitootni siyaasaa biroo irrattis himatni labsii farra shororkeessummaa jalatti irratti dhiyaatu ittuma fufeetu jira, gaazexessitoota Iskindir Naggaa fi Wubisheet Taayyee dabalatee ammoo ammallee manuma hidhaa keessa jiru.

Labsiin Waldaawwan Tajaajila tolaa kennuuf hundaawan fi Jaarmiyaalee Hawaasaa, dhaabota bilisaa kan miti-mootummaa ta’an mirga isaan hojjechuuf qaban takaalee dhorkuun isaa ittuma fufeetu jira.  Seerichi waayee mirga dhala namaa, bulchinsa gaarii, walitti bu’insa hiikuu, falmii mirga dubartoota, kan ijoollee, fi ummata hir’ina qaamaa qaban irratti, dhaabotni hojjetan bajata qaban keessaa dhibbeentaa 10 olitti madda alaa irraa horii kan argatan yoo ta’e akka hin hojjente uggura.

Mootummaan kuusaa odeeffannoo haasawaa bilbila maatiiwwan fi hiryyootni namoota akka mormituutti shakkamanii itti fufinsaan towata, haasawaa isaanii gidduu galee meeshaa ‘spaayiweer’ jedhamutti fayyadamee akka hin malletti dhaggeeffata.

Imeeliin garee basaastuu- imeelii Miilan, spaayiweer mootummaa Itoophiyaatti gurguruun isaatiif icciitiin kan harkaa baye akka himutti, jarreen hayyama yaroo Itoophiyaaf kennanii akka ture fi Ebla irraa eegalee waliigaltee haaraa yoo xinnaate US 700,000 kan baasu raawwachuuf marii irra akka jiran argisiisa.

Reebicha fi Hidhaa Seera-Malee

Hojjettootni humna tikaa Itoophiyaa hidhamtoota siyaasaa manneen hidhaa beekamoo fi dhoksaa keessatti qabamanii jiran reebuun ykn akka hin malletti dararuudhaan jecha amantii fi odeeffannoo irraa fuudhuuf yaaluu ittuma fufaniiru. Mootummaa Gamtaawaniitti Gilgaala Waliigalaa Yaroo Yarootti Gaggeeffamu kan bara 2014 irratti, Itoophiyaan yaada fooyya’insaa kennameef fudhachuudhaan “manneen hidhaa keessatti reebicha raawwatamu fi hiraarsa irratti raawwachuun akka hin jiraatne mirkaneessuu kan dandeessisu deemsa akka diriirsuu” waliigalaeera, haa ta’u malee ergasii asitti hojjettootni humna tikaa kanneen hojii akkanaa raawwatan qoratamuu ykn adabamuu isaaniitiif mallattoon argame hin jiru.

Liyyuu poolisii, humni paaraamilitarii Mootummaa Naanoon Somaalee, Poolisii aangoo seera ifaa ta’e tokkoon maleetti, walitti bu’insa Adda Biyyoolessaa Bilisummaa Ogaaden (ABBO) waliin jiru sababa gochuun socho’uudhaa yakkoota ciccimoo mirga dhala namaa sarbuu Itoopiyaa fi somaalee keessatti raawwachuu itti fufeen, gabaasotni seera malee nama akka fedhanitti nama ajjeesuu, hidhaa seeraan malee, ummata siviilii ABBO gargaaruun shakkaman dararuun baay’inaaa gabaafamaa jira.

Andaargaachoo Tsiggee, lammii biyya Yunaayitid Kiingdam fi dhaaba mootummaa humnaan fonqolchuuf yaale jedhamee ugguramee jiru dhaaba Ginboot 7 jedhamuuf barreessaa kan ta’e, bara 2014 seeraan ala biyya Yaman irra otoo darbuu seeraan ala qabamee erga Itoophiyaatti dabarfamee booda hanga ammaatti hidhaa keessa jira. Namni kun hirmaannaa Giboot 7 keessatti qabuuf harka lama murtiin du’aa bakka hin jirretti irratti murameera. Miseensotni Qonsilaa UK, Andaargaachoo, mana hidhaa keessatti hiraarsi irra gayaa jiraachuu isaatiif shakkiin guddaan otoo jiruu, marraa sadii qofaaf dhaqanii isa ilaalani. Baatii Eblaa keessa gareen hojii seeraan malee hidhaa raawwatu irratti hojjetu kan UN tokko mootummaan Itoophiyaa Andaargaachoo akka gadhiisuu fi beenyaas akka kafaluuf gaafate.

Maqaa Karoora Misooma jedhuun Humnaan Nama Buqqisuu

Hirphaa kennitootni gariin, Qajeelcha Misooma Addunyaa UK (DFID) fi baankii addunyaa dabalatee, horii kennuu Tajaajila Bu’uraa Tiksuu (TBT) [Protection of Basic Services  (PBS)] sagantaa rakkisaa turerra bara 2015 jallisanii jiru. TBTn sagantaa ummata qubachiisuu, yaalii mootummaan ummata miliyoona 1.5 ta’u, maqaa tajaajila bu’uuraa ummatatti dhiyeessa jedhuun hawaasa baadiyyaa jiraatu buqqisuu waliin wal qabsiisee raawwatu dha. Bakki itti ummata buqqisanii bara duraaf galchuuf itti saganteeffatan  gariin, kan Naannoo Gambeellaa bara 2011 raawwate ummata hiraarsuu, reebichaa fi hidhaa akka maleetti fayyadamuudhaan, marii fi kaasaa gayaa tokkoon maleetti kan hojii irra ooledha.

Jiraattotni Gambeellaa muraasni bara 2013 Garee Qorataa Baankii Addunyaa, qaama bilisaa mala ittigaafatamummaa bilisa jedhamutti himata dhiyeeffatani, Baankichis seera mataa isaa kan imaammata jiraattota biyyaa fi ummata fedha isaa maleetti qubachiisuu waliin wal qabsiisee hordofu cabseera jedhu. Gareen Qorattuu, yaada fooyya’insaa Sadaasa 2014 dhiyeesseen sagantaa TBT keessatti rakkoowwan bu’uuraa adda baasee dhiyeesseera, haa ta’u malee Boordiin Baankii Addunyaa argannoo kunniin hedduu isaanii baatii Guraandhalaa keessa kufaa godheera.  Afaan hiiktuun Garee Qorannaa san waliin Gambeellaa keessatti hojjetaa ture Bitootessaa keessa erga qabamee hidhamee booda Labsii farra shororkeessummaa jalatti yakka raawwatte jedhamee Fulbaana 2015 tti himatame.

Guraandhala keessa, yommu himatni qotee bulaa Itoophiyaa tokko sababa UK’n waadaa sirna waliin hojjechuuf tolfame kabajuu hanqachuudhaan sagantaa TBT deeggarte jedhamtee mana murtiitti falmiin dhiyaachaa turetti, DFIDn sagantaa TBT deeggaruu akka dhaabe labse. Murtii isaa kanaa tiif akka sababa tti waantota tuqe keessaa, Itoophiyaan mirgoota siyaasaa kabajuu ishee ilaalchisee ragaan jiru, haala yaachisaa bilisa ta’anii yaada ofii ibsachuu fi dorgommii filannaa irratti, akkasumas haala yaroo dheeraatiif yaachisaa ta’ee itti fufaa jiru kan raawwii hojjettoota humna tikaa ilaalchisee jiru kaasee ture.

Humnaan ummata qeyee isaa irraa buqqisanii bakka biraa qubachiisuu ilaalchisee itti fufinsaan gabaasni dhiyaachaa jira, hojiin kun kafaltii xinno yoo kaan ammoo kafaltiin tokkoon alatti, otoo jiraattotni ykn ummatni dhimmi isaa ilaallatu sirnaan hin irratti hin mariisisiin kan raawwatamu dha. Komiin akkanaa kun projektota daldala fi indusitrii kan Finfinnee babal’isuuf karoorfamee jiru fi misooma biqiltuu shonkoraa holqa Oomoo isa garjalla isa lafa hektaara 245,000 irraa qulqulleessanii kaasuu fi jiraattota 200,000 kan laficha irra jiraatan waliin wal qabatee ka’udha.  Hawaasni Oomoo lafa isaa irraa kaloo horii qulqullaayee laga Omoo kan midhaan hoomishuuf itti fayyadamnanitti karaan yoo itti cufamu arganii callisuuf dirqamani.  Kanneen karoora misoomaa kana ilaalchisee gaaffii kaasan ammoo ni hidhamu ni hiraarfamu.

Walitti bu’insi hamaan, sabaa fi sablammoota gidduu akkasuma mootummaa fi ummata adda addaa gidduutti mul’achuun bara 2015 keessa dabaleera, sababni kanaas gara caalu lafa kaloo fi qabeenya umamaa irratti wal dhiibuu irraa madda.  Cufaan jallisii Gibee III duuba jiru Amajjii 2015 irraa eegalee, bara baraan bishaan uumamaan gad darbee gamaa-gamna Oomootti lafa qonnaa   jiisuun irra ture hanqisaa, ofii garuu guutuu eegaleera.

Qaamota Biyya Alaa Dhimma Kana Keessatti Furtuu Ta’an

Itoophiyaan hirphaa kennitoota biyya alaa hedduu fi biyyoota ollaa irraa gargaarsa guddaa argachaa jirti, kunis biyyattiin teessuma Gamtaa Afrikaa ta’uu ishee irraa kan ka’e bakka murteessaa qabaachuu, nagaa eegsiftuu Mootummaa Gamtoomanii (UN) keessatti gumaacha qabdu, nageenya fi gargaarsa waliin wal-qabatee walitti dhufeenya biyyoota dhiyaa waliin tolfatte, akkasumas misooma biyyaa irratti safartuuwwan jiru irratti fooyya’insa mul’ifte jedhamee kan himamu san irraa kan maddudha.  Gamtaan Afrikaa (AU) – qaamni tokkittiin addunyaa hunda irraa filannaa 2015 to’ate- otoo dhaabotni siyaasaa mormitootaa, miidiyaaleen bilisaa fi dhaabotni bilisaa kanneen biroon akka hin sochoone qoqqobbaan cimaan irratti godhamee jiruu, filannaan sun  “amanamaadha” jedhee labse.

Itoophiyaan kanneen lola irra jiran araara ummata Sudaan Kibbaa aanjessuu itti fuftee jirti, humni waraanaa ishii bakka wal dhibdeen jiru Naannoo Abiye’i qabatee jira. Itoophiyaan shoora Gamtaa Afrikaa (AU) keessatti qabdu waliin wal qabatee humna waraanaa ishii Somaalee akka bobbaaftee jirti, bara 2015 keessa humna akka maleetti fayyadama kan jiru humni “Liyyuu Poolis” humna waraanaa Itoophiyaa cinaa socho’aa akka jiru gabaasni dhiyaachaa ture. Itoophiyaan dhibba fi kumaatamatti lakkaayaman baqattoota Ummata Sudaan Kibbaa, Somaalee fi Eertiraa irraa simattee keessee jirti.

Karoorri misoomaa Itoophiyaa gariin isaa dhiibbaa mirga namaa waliin wal qabatee-humnaan ummata Gambeellaa fi Holqa Omoo keessa jiraatu buqqisuu dabalatee, kan mormiin irratti ka’u yoo ta’ellee, biyyattiin hirphaa biyyoota alaa irraa bara 2015 keessa biliyoona $3 hirpha argachuun Afrikaa keessaa sadarkaa tokkoffaa irra jirti.  Biyyootni hirpha kana kennan waliigaltee gargaarsichaa keessatti sirni ittigaafatamummaa fi to’annaa itti cimu, gargaarsi kun cunqursaa mirga dhala namaaf akka hin oolle gochuu irratti keewwata cimaa tokko kaayuu isaanii kan argisiisu mallattoon tokko hin jiru.


 

https://www.hrw.org/om/world-report/2016/country-chapters/285336


 

East Africa: Little Progress, Worsening Repression

https://www.hrw.org/news/2016/01/27/east-africa-little-progress-worsening-repression

 

Oromia: Human Rights Watch: Arrest of Respected Politician Escalating Crisis in Ethiopia January 7, 2016

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Odaa Oromoo#OromoProtests against the Ethiopian regime fascist tyranny. Join the peaceful movement for justice, democracy, development and freedom of Oromo and other oppressed people in Ethiopia

Dispatches: Arrest of Respected Politician Escalating Crisis in Ethiopia

By Felix Horne

Free Bekele Gerba

Over the past eight weeks, Ethiopia’s largest region, Oromia, has been hit by a wave of mass protests over the expansion of the municipal boundary of the capital, Addis Ababa. The generally peaceful protests were sparked by fears the expansion will displace ethnic Oromo farmers from their land, the latest in a long list of Oromo grievances against the government.

Security forces have killed at least 140 protesters and injured many more, according to activists, in what may be the biggest crisis to hit Ethiopia since the 2005 election violence.

The crisis has taken another worrying turn: on December 23, the authorities arrested Bekele Gerba, deputy chairman of the Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC), Oromia’s largest legally registered political party. There had been fears he would be re-arrested as the government targets prominent Oromo intellectuals who they feel have influence over the population. He was first taken to the notorious Maekalawi prison, where torture and other ill-treatment are routine. The 54-year-old foreign language professor was reportedly hospitalized shortly after his arrest but his whereabouts are now unknown, raising concerns of an enforced disappearance. Other senior OFC leaders have been arbitrarily arrested in recent weeks or are said to be under virtual house arrest.

This is not the first time Bekele has been arrested. In 2011, he was convicted under Ethiopia’s draconian counterterrorism law of being a member of the banned Oromo Liberation Front – a charge often used to silence politically engaged ethnic Oromos who oppose the ruling Ethiopian Peoples’ Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF). He spent four years in prison and was only released shortly before the elections last May. The OFC ran candidates but the EPRDF coalition won all 547 parliamentary seats, a stark reflection of the unfair electoral playing field.

Bekele is deeply committed to nonviolence and has consistently advocated that the OFC participate in future elections, despite the EPRDF’s stranglehold on the political landscape.

By treating both opposition politicians and peaceful protesters with an iron fist, the government is closing off ways for Ethiopians to nonviolently express legitimate grievances. This is a dangerous trajectory that could put Ethiopia’s long-term stability at risk.

The Ethiopian government should release unjustly detained opposition figures including Bekele and rein in the excessive use of lethal force by the security forces. They should also allow people to peacefully protest and to express dissent and ensure that farmers and pastoralists are protected from arbitrary or forced displacement without consultation and adequate compensation.

These steps would be an important way to show Oromo protesters that the government is changing tack and is genuinely committed to respecting rights. Without this kind of policy shift, desperate citizens will widen their search for other options for addressing grievances.

https://www.hrw.org/news/2016/01/07/dispatches-arrest-respected-politician-escalating-crisis-ethiopia

 

Oromia: Obbo Baqqalaa Garbaa fi Obbo Dajanee Xaafaa To’annaa Jala Oolan. Fascist Ethiopian Regime (TPLF) unlawfully Arrested Baqqalaa Garbaa and Dajanee Tafaa of Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC) December 25, 2015

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Odaa OromooBaqqalaa GarbaaBaqqalaa Garbaa and Dajanee Xaafaa of Oromo Federalist CongressFree Bekele Gerba

https://www.oromiamedia.org/2015/12/25/omn-oduu-mud-24-2015/

Obbo Baqqalaa Garbaa , Itti-Aanaa Dura taa’aa KFO/OFC fi Dajanee Xaafaa itti-aanaa barreessaa KFO/OFC guyyaa ardhaa qabamuun Himame. Sochii Uummataatiin kan bararuqe mootummaan Shororkeessaa Woyyaanee hoggantoota gootota ilmaan Oromootaa kana Obboo Baqqalaa Adaammaarraa loltuu Lammii Tigraay qofa 21 qabatee mana marsee qabee gara Maakalaawitti yo geessu Obboo Dajanee Xaafaa ammoo Yuuniverstii Rift Valley bakka inni barsiisurraa qabanii mana geessanii and mana isaa sakatta’anii gara Maakalaawitti geessuun himameera.
Obboo Baqqalaan kanaan durallee woggoota 4 wolakkaa f mana hidhaa kan ture yo ta’u obbo Dajaneenille nama woggaa dheeraaf qabsoo karaa nagaa keessa turee dha. Ob Dajaneen 2005-2010 aanaa callayaarra filatamee paarlaamaa keessa turuun beekkama.

https://www.oromiamedia.org/2015/12/24/omn-oduu-amma-nu-gahe-muddee-242015/

 

 

Obbo Baqqalaa Garbaa Deebisanii To’annaa Jala Oolan

 

 

Muddee (Dec.) 24, 2015

Kan dhiyeenya mana hidhaa dhaa gad dhiisaman Itti aanaa dura taa’aan kongresa Federaalawaa Oromoo Obbo Baqqalaa Garbaa akka lakkoobsa Itiyoopiyaa har’a galgala naannoo Sa’a 12 mana isaanii Adaamaa jiru irraa hunoota mootummaan qabamuu maatiin isaanii nuu mirkaneessaniiru jechuu dhaan barreessaan dhaabichaa Obbo Baqqalaa Nagaa dubbataniiru.

 

Bonnie Holcomb: OSA’s Board Chair – message regarding the unlawful arrest of Bekele Gerba of OFC

Bekele Gerba was arrested last night 7:30 PM local time in Adama by 14 uniformed and armed Federal Police. They came with a paper callng for the arrest of “Bekele Gerba Tuji.” Bekele was reading at his desk in the company of his wife and son. He responded peacefully that this is not his proper name, that he had broken no law and refused to go with them or allow them to search the house. They brought another two intelligence people in civilian clothing who led a search the house without a stated purpose against his objection that his rights were being violated. He was taken by force without a charge in front of his wife, son and three witnesses who were EPRDF members. He was put into the back of a Federal Police vehicle and taken away. At that point his wife was told not to follow them and that she could visit him at the Makelawi prison after 24 hours.

This is the highly-respected man with a reputation of utmost integrity who translated the speeches of Martin Luther King, Jr into Oromo language while serving and a prisoner of conscience from 2011-2015. He is an official in the legitimate Oromo opposition party in Ethiopia. He delivered the keynote address at the 2015 Oromo Studies Association calling upon Oromo protest peacefully to assert their rights. I personally accompanied him to visit the State Department Ethiopian Desk officer, State Department Democracy Rights and Labor representative who also reported to the African Desk officer. He spoke with members of the Atlantic Council at a session on August 27, with National Endowment for Democracy, RFK Center for Justice and Human Rights, Freedom House, offices of Congressional Representatives from Minnesota and the House Subcommittee on Africa. He was interviewed by NPR and Al Jazeera. At all meetings he spoke clearly about the crisis the Oromo were facing with violation of all rights guaranteed by the Ethiopian constitution, the outright confiscation of land, the closure of all political and social space for expression. He urged support for peaceful demonstration by Oromo in Ethiopia, and received assurances that the United States fully supports democratic expression. Now is the time for all who heard and understood his message to stand in support of Bekele and the Oromo protesters who peacefully demonstrated in response to illegal land seizure and egregious violations of their rights.

http://www.ayyaantuu.net/bonnie-holcomb-osas-board-chair-message-regarding-the-unlawful-arrest-of-bekele-gerba-of-ofc/

 

 

DW (Oromia): Human Right Watch asks UN and AU to intervene on the current situation of Ethiopia. #OromoProtests December 20, 2015

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???????????#OromoPRotests tweet and share#OromoLivesMatters!Stop killing Oromo Students

HUMAN RIGHTS :Scores dead in Ethiopian protest crackdown, says rights group

A human rights watchdog has reported that 75 people have been killed protesting a government project in the Oromia region.

 Fatal clashes in Ethiopia

Human Rights Watch (HRW) said on Saturday that at least 75 people had been killed in recent weeks while protesting an urban renewal plan in the Oromo region surrounding the capital, Addis Ababa.

Outcry as Oromo protests in Ethiopia turn violent

Opposition groups say security forces have killed several people during weeks of protests over a government re-zoning plan. Members of Ethiopia’s largest ethnic group view the plan as an infringement on their rights.

“Police and military forces have fired on demonstrations, killing at least 75 protesters and wounding many others, according to activists,” the human rights watchdog said in a statement.

In November, students peacefully demonstrated against government plans to take over territory in several towns across the region.

However, the unrest was met with a severe response, including government forces using firearms against protesters.

‘Dangerous escalation’

“The Ethiopian government’s response to the Oromo protests has resulted in scores dead and a rapidly rising risk of greater bloodshed,” said HRW’s Deputy Africa Director Leslie Lefkow.

“The government’s labeling of largely peaceful protesters as ‘terrorists’ and deploying military forces is a very dangerous escalation of this volatile situation,” Lefkow added.

Government spokesman Getachew Reda said the “peaceful demonstrations” that began in November escalated into violence, blaming the protesters for “terrorizing the civilians.”

He said only five people had died, dismissing the higher toll reported by activists.

Oromo opposition leader Bekele has announced his support for peaceful protests, according to DPA news agency.

“Grievances have accumulated over the years. Over the evictions, but also over the lack of democracy in this country, the human rights abuses and the level of poverty,” Gerba said in a statement.

Activists in Berlin have protested the Ethiopian government's response to the Oromo protestsActivists in Berlin have protested the Ethiopian government’s response to the Oromo protests

International outcry

The US State Department on Saturday expressed concern over the crackdown, urging the government to allow “peaceful protests.”

“The United States is deeply concerned by the recent clashes in the Oromia region of Ethiopia that reportedly have resulted in the deaths of numerous protesters,” the State Department said in a statement.

http://www.dw.com/en/scores-dead-in-ethiopian-protest-crackdown-says-rights-group/a-18929680?maca=en-Facebook-sharing

Human Rights Watch (Oromia): Ethiopia: Lethal Force Against Protesters. #OromoProtests December 19, 2015

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Ethiopia: Lethal Force Against Protesters

Military Deployment, Terrorism Rhetoric Risk Escalating Violence

(Nairobi) – Ethiopian security forces have killed dozens of protesters since November 12, 2015, in Oromia regional state, according to reports from the region. The security forces should stop using excessive lethal force against protesters.

Protesters in Oromia region, Ethiopia.

Protesters in Oromia region, Ethiopia, December 2015.

Police and military forces have fired on demonstrations, killing at least 75 protesters and wounding many others, according to activists. Government officials have acknowledged only five deaths and said that an undisclosed number of security force members have also been killed. On December 15, the government announced that protesters had a “direct connection with forces that have taken missions from foreign terrorist groups” and that Ethiopia’s Anti-Terrorism Task Force will lead the response.

“The Ethiopian government’s response to the Oromia protests has resulted in scores dead and a rapidly rising risk of greater bloodshed,” said Leslie Lefkow, deputy Africa director at Human Rights Watch. “The government’s labelling of largely peaceful protesters as ‘terrorists’ and deploying military forces is a very dangerous escalation of this volatile situation.”

Protests by students began in Ginchi, a small town 80 kilometers southwest of Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa, when authorities sought to clear a forest for an investment project. Protests quickly spread throughout the Oromia region, home of Ethiopia’s estimated 35 million Oromo, the country’s largest ethnic group.

They evolved into larger demonstrations against the proposed expansion of the Addis Ababa municipal boundary, known as the “Addis Ababa Integrated Development Master Plan.” Approximately 2 million people live in the area of the proposed boundary expansion and many protesters fear the plan could displace Oromo farmers and residents living near the city.

Since mid-November, the protesting students have been joined by farmers and other residents. Human Rights Watch received credible reports that security forces shot dozens of protesters in Shewa and Wollega zones, west of Addis Ababa, in early December. Several people described seeing security forces in the town of Walliso, 100 kilometers southwest of Addis Ababa, shoot into crowds of protesters in December, leaving bodies lying in the street.

Numerous witnesses told Human Rights Watch that security forces beat and arrested protesters, often directly from their homes at night. Others described several locations as “very tense” with heavy military presence and “many, many arrests.” One student who took part in protests in West Shewa said, “I don’t know where any of my friends are. They have disappeared after the protest. Their families say they were taken by the police.”

Local residents in several areas told Human Rights Watch that protesters took over some local government buildings after government officials abandoned them. Protesters have also set up roadblocks to prevent the movement of military units into communities. Some foreign-owned commercial farms were looted and destroyed near Debre Zeit, 50 kilometers southeast of Addis Ababa, news media reported.

Human Rights Watch has not been able to corroborate the precise death toll and many of the details of individual incidents because of limited independent access and restricted communications with affected areas. There have also been unconfirmed reports of arrests of health workers, teachers, and others who have publicly shown support for the protest movement through photos and messages on social media.