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THE ETHIOPIAN GOVERNMENT CONTINUES COMMITTING CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY WITH IMPUNITY February 22, 2018

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THE ETHIOPIAN GOVERNMENT CONTINUES COMMITTING CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY WITH IMPUNITY

THE ETHIOPIAN GOVERNMENT CONTINUES COMMITTING CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY WITH IMPUNITY


Human rights League of the Horn of Africa

Human Rights League of Horn of Africa (HRLHA)
Written Statement Submitted to the United Nations Human Rights Council,

37th Session,  26February – 23March, 2018


Item 4:Human rights situations that require the Council’s attention


(Country- Ethiopia)


THE ETHIOPIAN GOVERNMENT CONTINUES COMMITTING CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY WITH IMPUNITY
 
With the Terror Law Proclamation of 2009, which declared three Ethiopian opposition Political groups- namely the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF), the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) and Ginbit-7 “terrorists”, remaining in effect despite pleas from numerous national and international human rights organizations, the Ethiopian government continued cracking down on whoever protests against its repressive rules. The Proclamation fully contradicts the whole catalogue of human and legal rights stipulated in the Ethiopian Constitution. Citizens have no freedom to express their views or meet in public, and whoever dares to defy the Proclamation is charged with being a terrorist or affiliated with a terror group, subsequent to which s/he is thrown into jail without the right to bail. As a result, the numbers of political prisoners held in Ethiopian prisons and makeshift sites have reached an unprecedented level, forcing the government to starve other sectors of the economy in order to build new prisons. The number of political prisoners in the country remains secret as the government denies holding any, even though a few weeks back and under pressure from the public, it declared that it would soon release all political prisoners. The promise, however, was not kept as it released only 153 prisoners out of the thousands held in federal government prisons. Prominent opposition party leaders like BekeleGerba, AndargachewTsigie and journalists like EskendirNegahave remained imprisoned.
 
The judiciary remains as dependent as ever and Court rulings are far from being fair. In most cases, the judges were given orders by authorities in the ruling party to sentence alleged political figures to a certain number of years, although it is evident that the charges were fabricated. In cases where some independent judges dared to release political prisoners on bail, as happened with the case of Mr. BekeleGerba, it was the prison officials, with a link to the ruling party officials, who defied the court ruling and kept the prisoner. At the time of this writing and for almost a year now, Mr. Gerbastill languishes in prison not knowing what the future may hold for him. Some political prisoners who were on the list of those to be released from prisons following the announcement by the government were kept behind, and brought to court where they were sentenced for violations of the norms of the Proclamation on Terror. This is just one indication that the Ethiopian judiciary is completely under the control of the government.
 
The government is targeting the non-EPRDF member citizens in general, and the youth in particular, who have been fighting for equality and justice for almost a decade now. The citizens, however, have continued with their peaceful uprising for an unprecedented three years in a row since November 2015, unifying the people of all ages and from all corners. During these three years of continuous protests, over 4,000 citizens have been killed, thousands others injured, and unknown numbers forcefully disappeared. The civilian police and the military killed over 700 Oromos on October 2, 2016 alone during the celebration of Irrecha, the Oromo Thanksgiving festival.
 
After all these cruel actions of the government, the Oromo people didn’t give up their demands for equality and justice and continued their peaceful protests. Unable to suppress the uprising, the government declared-on October 8, 2016-a six- month state of emergency which de jure suspended all constitutional rights. With a pretext of participating in protests, over 70,000 Oromos were thrown into prison and military camps and kept in inhumane and degrading conditions. Some 30,000 were released, but many Oromos remain detained in unknown locations and without official charges.
 
Although the government officially admitted that the mass uprising was the result of failure on its part to deliver good governance, it continued arresting and killing civilian demonstrators and ignoring their legitimate demands for equality and justice. It is reported that during the 2017 civilian demonstrations alone in Oromia and Amhara regions, more than 1,000 persons were killed. Since the beginning of 2018, the security forces killed nearly 100 persons during demonstrations in these two regions.
 
The killings, beatings and imprisoning of the citizens in Ethiopia didn’t stop them from demanding equality, justice and freedom. To silence the grievance of the citizens by military force, the government created on November 12, 2017 the so- called “National Security Council” led by the Defense Minister who declared de facto military rule. Following the decision, the government deployed its military force into the Oromo and Amhara Regional States to effect repression. The National Security Council- which is led by the Defense Minister SirajFegessa- has controlled the regional states’ police and security activities, paralyzing regional police and security institutions, in violation of article 39(3)[1] of the Ethiopian constitution of 1995 which stipulated that “Every Nation, Nationality and People in Ethiopia has the right to a full measure of self-government which includes the right to establish institutions of government in the territory that it inhabits and to equitable representation in state and Federal governments”.
 
The Federal government, in its attempt to engage the different ethnic groups (nations and nationalities) against each other and rule them as divided entities, encouraged the Somali Regional government to declare an outright war against the adjacent Oromo people as a result of which nearly one million Oromos were forced to leave their homes and villages. The government, although admitting for the first time in its history that Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) existed on its territory, deprived the displaced of the right to access food, shelter and water by blocking access roads as well as making them unsafe for humanitarian relief workers. As a result, the million displaced people had to seek permanent settlement in other parts of Oromia, with the help of Oromo Nation and regional authorities without the involvement of the Federal government.
 
Conditions in Ethiopian prisons remain the same as we last reported in 2017 at the UN Human Rights Council 34th Session. Political prisoners have the right to a reasonable space/room for sleeping, access to daylights, to proper sanitation and family visits as well as meeting with their respective lawyers. In one of the worst correctional facilities in the world, none of these have been afforded. The level of torture, as reported by those who were recently released from these prisons, is simply unbearable. The government continues denying access to international human rights organizations, the UN Human Rights Special Rapporteurs and the ICRC, whose report could have shed more light on the situations in the prisons.
 
The economic situation in the country is going from bad to worse. With the “developmental state economic policy” of the government, the few at the top amassed the entire wealth of the nation leaving the population in abject poverty. Graduates of the various universities can hardly find jobs in the country, and as and when they take their frustration to the streets, the security forces are meeting them with live bullets. All in all, the security situation and the physical safety of the youth in the country remain un-secured, resulting in a mass exodus of the entire young generation who is leaving illegally in search of a better life elsewhere. In doing so, hundreds are being drowned in the Red Sea or the Mediterranean, while some others end up being hostages of human traffickers and organ collectors in the Sinai or the Sahara. Young girls are lured into the criminal world and remain exploited by human traffickers in Middle Eastern countries.
 
The HRLHA once again renews its calls to the international community to act collectively in a timely and decisive manner – through all available mechanisms of the United Nations in accordance with the UN charter to stop the Ethiopian government’s assaults on its own citizens before it is too late. Based on the 2005 World Summit Outcome Document Paragraphs 138 and 139 on the Responsibility to Protect (R2P)[2], the international community has the responsibility and the mandate to use appropriate actions, diplomatic, humanitarian and other available means to protect the people who are only demanding their fundamental human rights as recognized by the United Nations. It is not a new practice of the United Nations that when States violate the terms of the social contract they have with their own population, it has always been the responsibility of the international community to step in and save the defenseless civilians from being exterminated, as is the case now in Ethiopia. When the State is unable or unwilling to protect its population from genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing, the international community has the responsibility to intervene.
*****
[1] Proclamation No. 1/1995 Proclamation of the Constitution of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopiahttp://www.ethiopianembassy.be/wp-content/uploads/Constitution-of-the-FDRE.pdf
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Oromia: Human Rights League New Year’s Message: “It always Seems Dark Until the Sun Rises” January 2, 2017

Posted by OromianEconomist in Human Rights.
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 Odaa OromooOromianEconomist

Human rights League of the Horn of Africa


New Year’s Message from  HRLHA“It always Seems Dark Until the Sun Rises”December 31, 2016


The Human Rights League of the Horn of Africa (HRLHA) is delighted to be closing 2016. The organization is deeply grateful to its valued Board members, reporters, members, and supporters for their extraordinary  efforts to help the HRLHA continue to be the voice for the voiceless in the Horn of Africa in general and in Ethiopia in particular this year.

In 2016, the Horn of Africa Region remains one of the most volatile regions in the world. The civilian unrest in Ethiopia, the civil war in S. Sudan, and Somalia, the mass exodus from Eritrea, Ethiopia, Somalia  to neighboring countries away from executions and famine, were some of the notable crucial problems in the region.

The year of  2016 has been a year of sorrows and chaos for nations  and nationalities in Ethiopia, due to the deplorable evil actions taken by Ethiopian government killing agents against peaceful Oromo, Amhara and Konso protests in which the Oromo, Amhara, Konso and other  nations and nationalities simply tried to exercise their fundamental rights to present their grievances. During the peaceful protests in Oromia, which have been going on for over one  year  in Amhara regional states and Konso Zone,  a number of citizens have been massacred, incarcerated, tortured and disappeared. Due to its mistreatment of its citizens, the government lost control over the country as  a whole and then declared a state of emergency to quell the dissent. Since the state of emergency was declared  on October 8, 2016,  many gross human rights violations have been registered- killings, abductions, and imprisonments. These continue to the present day among Oromo and Amhara nationals.

The staff members and reporters of HRLHA have worked  tirelessly to  expose the government of Ethiopia’s tyranny and defend and promote human rights in 2016; their work this year has been at its most intense than any of the past nine years. We gave maximum efforts to bring to light the atrocities in Ethiopia in a challenging environment characterized by administrative sanctions on mass media, including social media, email, telephone, sanctions designed to hide the atrocities the government killing agents were committing.

We are  greatly indebted to  HRLHA members, reporters and supporters who have shown courage and stood with us on this front to deliver their responsibilities of monitoring and reporting human rights abuses in Ethiopia under such difficult situations.

The HRLHA believes that 2016  was the darkest year in the history of the Oromo  nation. To give just one example, a mother and father lost their three sons in one night in their home to the government killing squad Agazi force. The mother was forced by the killers to sit on her son’s dead body. In other cases, women were raped in front of their husbands. These are just to mention  a few of the crimes known to have been perpetuated against Ethiopians by the dictatorial TPLF/EPRDF government crime groups. The HRLHA believes, however, that behind the darkness there is light for which we must continue fighting “It always Seems Dark Until the Sun Rises”.   It might seem that  the fight for our  basic and fundamental rights is over,  due to the repressions by the dictatorial TPLF/EPRDF government for  over the past twenty five years  since its formation in 1991. But it is not yet over, we should not give up, we must continue fighting for our rights until we win.

Therefore, in 2017, we must redouble the fight to protect human rights, democracy and equality by exposing  the dishonesty of the Ethiopian government to its ordinary citizens, and also to its political party members and government authorities.

The biggest fight of all, however, is the struggle for the well-being of all Ethiopians, for equality, and for the elimination of all forms of discrimination. It is also the most difficult because the present reality still hits hard at those who live through the anxiety and anguish of poverty and violence.

Finally, the HRLHA urges all peace, democracy and  human rights lovers, governments, government and non-government agencies to work together, so that the core values of peace, democracy, human rights, security and development will be restored in the Horn of Africa region in the incoming year of 2017.

“Let us strive together to make  all expectations and goals for each day be fulfilled on the day itself, to remove the darkness in the past  and to bring a brighter future in the incoming year of 2017 “

“We Fight For Human Rights!”

Happy New year for all!!

Garoma B. Wakessa
Director, HRLHA


 

Ethiopia: The endless suffering of Oromo Nationals continued even after the landmark victory claim of the EPRDF in the election of May 2015. Human rights League of the Horn of Africa Urgent Action. #Oromia #Africa August 30, 2015

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Ethiopia: The endless suffering of Oromo Nationals continued even after the landmark victory claim of the EPRDF in the election of May 2015

 

For Immediate Release

August 29, 2015

Even though the government of Ethiopia claimed 100% of the victory during the parliamentary election of May 2015, harassment and intimidation through arbitrary arrests, kidnappings and disappearances of civilians have continued unabated in all corners of the Oromia Regional State under the pretext they voted for opposition parties and did not give their voice for the EPRDF wing Oromo organization, the Oromo People Democratic Organization (OPDO) According to HRLHA correspondents in Oromia, the major target areas of these most recent government-sponsored human rights abuse include Bule Hora (Guji zone, Southern Oromia), Dambi Dolo (Western Oromia zone), Western and North Showa Zones (Central Oromia Regional State). According to the report obtained from Oromia, more than two thousand Oromo nationals have been arrested and many have been abducted since the May 2015 election. In another incident, the Ethiopian federal police arrested over 400 farmers, men and women in the North Showa Zone Warra Jarso district from different communities on the pretext that they harbored rebels who fought against the government. The victims were picked up from their homes and confined in Warra Jarso district administrative offices and different local schools. Although it has been difficult to identify everyone by their names, HRLHA correspondents have confirmed that the following were among those arrested.  The endless suffering of Oromo Nationals

 

HRLHA Press Release: Ethiopian Election 2015: Is Democracy Prosperous or Destitute? June 29, 2015

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Ethiopian Election 2015: Is Democracy Prosperous or Destitute?

 

HRLHA Press Release

June 28, 2015

 Public, For Immediate Release

Ethiopia holds general elections every five years; the most recent one was held on May 24, 2015. The ruling TPLF/EPRDF party, which has been in power for the past twenty-four years, officially announced on this past Monday, June 22, 2015 that the government and its allies ((political organizations created by EPRDF) won a landslide victory in the country’s parliamentary elections. In the announcement, the ruling party proudly declared itself, not just the winner, but that it was also more victorious than ever before by taking all seats in both the federal and regional parliaments with its allies. In the months and weeks leading to the elections, under very restrictive conditions and in some places even where detentions were common, campaigns by the opposition parties were very intense, and the public response in support of the parties was far beyond expectations.

Unfortunately, all of that was to no avail. Looking at the end results of the elections, all that could be said is that the huge public rally behind the opposition parties instead alerted the ruling party- it prepared itself and came up with more and newer tactics to rig the elections. Heavily equipped armed forces were deployed in different areas including the surroundings of the capital, Addis Ababa/Finfinne.

As has been the case during the previous elections, hundreds of opposition party candidates, and observers were hunted down and detained at different places prior to the polling day under the pretext that they created obstacles to the process of election or were suspected of being members of political organizations labeled terrorist by the EPRDF government, groups such as the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF), Ogadenean Nation Liberation Front (ONLF) and Ginbot 7.

filanooThousands of Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC) candidates and observers in Oromia Regional State, including Bule Hora (Guji Zone) South Oromia,  Makko and Darimu (Illu Abba Bora), Gimbi and Gulisso (Wallagga) West Oromia, Ginir and Goro (Bale), South Oromia were arrested and intimidated by the government security forces. OFC members Mr. Dula Matias and Mr. Zelalem Shuma in Dambi Dola (Wallagga), the Western Oromia Regional State were among those detained.

There have been cases of misinforming and misguiding voters, especially regarding voting times and places. Although it was announced ahead of the election day that there were plenty of voting cards, Oromo electors in some particular parts of the region were told that there were no voting cards left. In other areas of Oromia it has been confirmed that the voting cards were distributed to the people hours after the election has already started.

For example, in the following photo the EPRDF representative on the Toke Kutaye District (Ambo) was distributing voter cards on May 24, 2014.

Worst of all was the stealing of the ballot boxes after they were filled with voting cards in order to give all the votes to the candidates of the ruling party, regardless of whom the voter cards belonged to. The above mentioned incidents happened mainly in Eastern and Western Hararge, Dire Dawa, in various parts of central Shawa, in the Oromia Zone of Wallo, particularly at Wallo University, in Illu Abbabor, at Mettu University, in different parts of Wallaga, in Guji and Borana zones of the regional state of Oromia.

Accordingly, as proven in the announcement made by the National Election Board, the ruling TPLF/EPRDF Party stole most of the votes and, by so doing, systematically eliminated all opposition parties from the political game, leaving both the regional and federal parliaments without any alternative voices and differing political opinions. It is so worrisome that the country is once again back under a one-party monopoly of everything – political, economic, and social. All the rhetoric during the past two decades regarding the flourishing of democracy in Ethiopia has now proven to have been lies and deceptions- the reality is that democracy has been diminished.

Regardless of the unpopular results of the elections, both the Ethiopian peoples and all the opposition political parties should never feel that they lost. They should be rewarded for doing the best job that they have done – very peaceful election campaigns were conducted by the opposition parties and, in response, similar rallies and supports were shown by the general public. Both the Ethiopian peoples and the opposition parties have demonstrated and exercised genuine democracy in an oppressive political environment where democracy did not exist. Above all, the reaction of the population during the campaigns clearly demonstrated to the world that fundamental changes are needed in that country.

While the local observers were silenced by various types of harassment and intimidation, foreign and international independent observers such as the European Union and various human rights agencies chose to stay away knowing that, based on experiences from the past elections, their presence would make no difference except giving legitimacy to such a fake election. The decision taken by international observers not to participate in such a fake election could be described as a step in the right direction, a sign of rejection and refusal which showed that preconditions the government of Ethiopia followed for the election was wrong.  However, a lot more needs to be done to bring about positive political changes in Ethiopia.

The Human Rights League of the Horn of Africa is deeply concerned about the human rights situation in Ethiopia which keeps deteriorating over time. Ethiopia is a party to numerous instruments of international and regional human rights, humanitarian and other laws[1]. The Ethiopian government has accepted, signed and ratified most of the international human rights standards. It has an obligation to adhere to those agreements and their implementations.  However, the government of Ethiopia has repeatedly failed to implement those standards, including the Ethiopian constitution of 1995. On the contrary, the government adopted anti- terrorism legislation and NGO law which it has used to criminalize the democratic rights of the people.

The Ethiopian government has been given a number of recommendations from UN Human Rights Council sessions to adhere to the international instruments it has signed and ratified, including at the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) assessment outcome of 2014, where the country was given 252 recommendations to improve its human rights infringements it has committed against its people. The Ethiopian government also was advised to implement in full its constitutional protection for freedom of expression, assembly and association, and to encourage political tolerance

The parliamentary election of May 2015 in Ethiopia confirms that the country is heading towards a mono- political system of government. To change this, the Ethiopian government needs to:

  • Adhere to International, Regional and Domestic human rights and their implementation, humanitarian rights and its own constitution
  • Abolish the Anti-terrorism Proclamation of 2009
  • Remove NGO law 2009
  • Reforming the Freedom of the Mass Media and Access to Information Proclamation of 2009
  • Repealing the provisions shielding public officials from criticism

Therefore, the Human Rights League of the Horn of Africa (HRLHA) calls upon the international diplomatic and human rights agencies to join hands with the democratic-thirsty Ethiopian peoples and opposition political parties in their efforts to put pressure on the ruling TPLF/EPRDF party so that it abides by democratic principles as well as international laws and respects fundamental human rights so that genuine democracy can flourish.

[1] http://www.ohchr.org/EN/countries/AfricaRegion/Pages/ETIndex.aspx

Human rights League of the Horn of Africa