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Ethiopia: Human Rights Watch (HRW) World Report 2018 January 21, 2018

Posted by OromianEconomist in Human Rights, Uncategorized.
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 Odaa Oromoooromianeconomist

Attendees of Irreecha 2017 in Bishoftu, HRW 2018 world report.png

Attendees at the Irreecha festival in Bishoftu, Ethiopia on October 1, 2017. Irreecha is the most important festival for Ethiopia’s Oromo people. One year earlier at Irreecha hundreds died following security force mishandling of the large crowd. © 2017 Reuters /Tiksa

Ethiopia made little progress in 2017 on much-needed human rights reforms. Instead, it used a prolonged state of emergency, security force abuses, and repressive laws to continue suppressing basic rights and freedoms.

The 10-month state of emergency, first declared in October 2016, brought mass arrests, mistreatment in detention, and unreasonable limitations on freedom of assembly, expression, and association. While abusive and overly broad, the state of emergency gave the government a period of relative calm that it could have used to address grievances raised repeatedly by protesters.

However, the government did not address the human rights concerns that protesters raised, including the closing of political space, brutality of security forces, and forced displacement. Instead, authorities in late 2016 and 2017 announced anti- corruption reforms, cabinet reshuffles, a dialogue with what was left of opposition political parties, youth job creation, and commitments to entrench “good governance.”

Ethiopia continues to have a closed political space. The ruling coalition has 100 percent of federal and regional parliamentary seats. Broad restrictions on civil society and independent media, decimation of independent political parties, harassment and arbitrary detention of those who do not actively support the government, severely limited space for dissenting voices.

Despite repeated promises to investigate abuses, the government has not credibly done so, underscoring the need for international investigations. The government-affiliated Human Rights Commission is not sufficiently independent and its investigations consistently lack credibility.

Ethiopian government and security officials should act with restraint and take concrete steps to prevent injuries and deaths at this year’s Irreecha festival on October 1, 2017.

State of Emergency

Ethiopia spent much of 2017 under a state of emergency first imposed in October 2016 following a year of popular protests, renewed for four months in March, and lifted on August 4. Security forces responded to the protests with lethal force, killing over 1,ooo protesters and detaining tens of thousands more.

The state of emergency’s implementing directive prescribed draconian and overly broad restrictions on freedom of expression, association, and assembly across the country, and signaled an increasingly militarized response to the situation. The directive banned all protests without government permission and permitted arrest without court order in “a place assigned by the command post until the end of the state of emergency” and permitted “rehabilitation”—a euphemism for short-term detention that often involves forced physical exercise.

During the state of emergency military were deployed in much larger numbers across Oromia and Amhara regions, and security forces arbitrarily detained over 21,000 people in these “rehabilitation camps” according to government figures. Detainees reported harsh physical punishment and indoctrination in government policies. Places of detention included prisons, military camps, and other makeshift facilities. Some reported torture. Artists, politicians, and journalists were tried on politically motivated charges.

Dr. Merera Gudina, the chair of the Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC), a legally registered political opposition party, was charged with “outrages against the constitution” in March. He joins many other major OFC members on trial on politically motivated charges, including deputy chairman Bekele Gerba. At time of writing, at least 8,000 people arrested during the state of emergency remain in detention, according to government figures.

Freedom of Expression and Association

The state tightly controls the media landscape, a reality exacerbated during the state of emergency, making it challenging for Ethiopians to access information that is independent of government perspectives. Many journalists are forced to choose between self-censorship, harassment and arrest, or exile. At least 85 journalists have fled into exile since 2010, including at least six in 2017.

Ethiopia: 2017 in numbers

Scores of journalists, including Eskinder Nega and Woubshet Taye, remain jailed under Ethiopia’s anti- terrorism law.

In addition to threats against journalists, tactics used to restrict independent media include harassing advertisers, printing presses, and distributors.

Absent a vibrant independent domestic media, social media and diaspora television stations continue to play key roles in disseminating information. The government increased its efforts to restrict access to social media and diaspora media in 2017, banning the watching of diaspora television under the state of emergency, jamming radio and television broadcasts, targeting sources and family members of diaspora journalists. In April, two of the main diaspora television stations—Ethiopian Satellite Television (ESAT) and the Oromia Media Network (OMN)—were charged under the repressive anti-terrorism law. Executive director of OMN, Jawar Mohammed, was also charged under the criminal code in April.

The government regularly restricts access to social media apps and some websites with content that challenges the government’s narrative on key issues. During particularly sensitive times, such as during June’s national exams when the government feared an exam leak, the government blocked access to the internet completely.

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

Torture and Arbitrary Detention

Arbitrary detention and torture continue to be major problems in Ethiopia. Ethiopian security personnel, including plainclothes security and intelligence officials, federal police, special police, and military, frequently tortured and otherwise ill-treated political detainees held in official and secret detention centers, to coerce confessions or the provision of information.

Many of those arrested since the 2015/2016 protests or during the 2017 state of emergency said they were tortured in detention, including in military camps. Several women alleged that security forces raped or sexually assaulted them while they were in detention. There is little indication that security personnel are being investigated or punished for any serious abuses. Former security personnel, including military, have described using torture as a technique to extract information.

There are serious due process concerns and concerns about the independence of the judiciary on politically sensitive cases. Outside Addis Ababa, many detainees are not charged and are rarely taken to court.

Individuals peacefully expressing dissent are often charged under the repressive anti-terrorism law and accused of belonging to one of three domestic groups that the government has designated as terrorist organizations. The charges carry punishments up to life in prison. Acquittals are rare, and courts frequently ignore complaints of torture by detainees. Hundreds of individuals, including opposition politicians, protesters, journalists and artists, are presently on trial under the anti-terrorism law.

The government has not permitted the United Nation’s Working Group on Arbitrary Detention to investigate allegations despite requests from the UN body in 2005, 2007, 2009, 2011, and 2015.

Somali Region Security Force Abuses

Serious abuses continue to be committed by the Somali Region’s notoriously abusive Liyu police. Throughout 2017, communities in the neighboring Oromia regional state reported frequent armed attacks on their homes by individuals believed to be from the Somali Region’s Liyu police. Residents reported killings, assaults, looting of property, and displacement. Several Somali communities reported reprisal attacks carried out by unknown Oromo individuals. Human Rights Watch is not aware of any efforts by the federal government to stop these incursions. Several hundred thousand people have been internally displaced as a result of the ongoing conflict.

The Liyu police were formed in 2008 and have a murky legal mandate but in practice report to Abdi Mahmoud Omar (also known as “Abdi Illey”) the president of the Somali Regional State, and have been implicated in numerous alleged extrajudicial killings as well as incidents of torture, rape, and attacks on civilians accused of proving support to the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF). No meaningful investigations have been undertaken into any of these alleged abuses in the Somali Regional State.

Abdi Illey’s intolerance for dissent extends beyond Ethiopia, and family members of Ethiopian Somalis living outside of the country are frequently targeted in the Somali Region. Family members of diaspora have been arbitrarily detained, harassed, and had their property confiscated after their relatives in the diaspora attended protests or were critical of Abdi Illey in social media posts.

Key International Actors

Despite its deteriorating human rights record, Ethiopia continues to enjoy strong support from foreign donors and most of its regional neighbors, due to its role as host of the African Union and as a strategic regional player, its contributions to UN peacekeeping, regional counterterrorism efforts, its migration partnerships with Western countries, and its stated progress on development indicators. Ethiopia is also a country of origin, transit, and host for large numbers of migrants and refugees.

Both the European Parliament and US Senate and House of Representatives have denounced Ethiopia’s human rights record. The European Parliament urged the establishment of a UN-led mechanism to investigate the killings of protesters since 2015 and to release all political prisoners. In April, European Union Special Representative (EUSR) for Human Rights Stavros Lambrinidis visited Ethiopia, underscoring EU concern over Ethiopia’s human rights situation. Other donors, including the World Bank, have continued business as usual without publicly raising concerns.

Ethiopia is a member of both the UN Security Council and the UN Human Rights Council. Despite these roles, Ethiopia has a history of non-cooperation with UN special mechanisms. Other than the UN special rapporteur on Eritrea, no special rapporteur has been permitted to visit since 2006. The rapporteurs on torture, freedom of opinion and expression, and peaceful assembly, among others, all have outstanding requests to visit the country.


Attendees of Irreecha 2017 in Bishoftu, HRW 2018 world reportHirmaattota Ayyaana Irreechaa Onkoloolessa 1, 2017 Bishooftuu, Itoophiyaa. Ayyaanni Irreecha uummata Oromoo Itoophiyaatif ayyaana addaati. Ayyaana Irreecha waggaa tokko dura kabajame irraatti humnootni tikaa tuutaa uummata jeequurran kan ka’e namootni dhibbootan lakkayaman du’anii ture.

© 2017 Reuters /Tiksa


Qabinsa mirga namoomaaf haaromsa haalaan barbaachisu gochuu irratti Itoophiyaan bara 2017 keessa waa xinnoo dalagde. Inumayyuu mirgoota bu’uuraafi bilisummmaa laammiileeshii humnaan ukkaamsuu itti fufuuf jecha labsi yeroo muddamaa, haleellaa humnoota tikaafi seerota ukkaamsoo fayyadamaa turte.

Labsiin yeroo muddamaa ji’oota 10f turefi baatii Onkoloolessa 2016 keessa labsame hidhaa jumlaafi mana hidhaatti dararamuu fidee ture.  Mirgoota akka hiriira nagaa bayuu, mirga yaada ofii bilisaan ibsachuufi mirga ijaaramuu irrattis dhorkaaa hin barbaachisne kaayee ture.  Labsiin muddamaa sun gar-malee baldhaafi sirna malee kan dhimmi itti bayame ta’us mootummaa biyya bulchuuf yeroo tasgabbii silaa komii mormitootni kaasaa turan itti furu kenneefii ture.

Haata’u malee mootummaan Itoophiyaa gaaffilee mormitootaa kan akka cufinsa dirree siyaasaa, haleellaa gara jabeenyaa humnoota tikaafi humnaan qeyee ofiirraa buqqa’uufaa hin furre. Gaaffilee mormitootaa kana deebisuurra aangawoonni mootummaa jijjiirraa farra-malaammaltummaa, jijjiirraa kaabineefii haasawaa paartilee mormituu hafan wajjiin gochuuf, carraa hojii dargaggootaaf uumuufii ‘’bulchiinsa gaarii’’ fiduuf kutannoon akka hojjatan dhuma 2016 fi 2017ti beeksisanii turan.

Itoophiyaan ammas dirree siyaasaa akkuma cuftetti jirti. Walta’insi paartii biyya bulchuu teessoo mana maree bakka bu’oota uummataa naannoofi federaalaa 100% dhuunffatee jira. Dhorkaan guddaan dhaabbilee siviilii fi midiyaarra kaayame, dhabbilee mormituu ofiin dhaabbatan dadhabsiisuun, hidhaafi dararaan namoota mootummaa deeggaruu didan irra gahu dirree sagalee mormii garmalee dhiphisee/cufee jira.

Yeroo heddu yakkoota kana qorachuuf waadaa galus, mootummaan qorannoo amanamaa gochuu dhabuun ammas barbaachisummaa qorannoo idil-adunyaa cimsee agarsiisa.  Komishiniin mirga namoomaa Itoophiyaa hirkattummaa mootummaarraa bilisa waan hin taaneef qarannoon dhaabni kun godhu amanamummaa qabaatee hin beeku.

Labsii yeroo muddamaa

Harka caalaa bara 2017 Itoophiyaan labsii muddama jalatti dabarsite. Labsiin kun Onkoloolessa 2016 yeroo mormiin guddaan turetti labsamee ture. Labsichi Bitootessaa 2017 ji’a afuriif itti dabalamee haaromfamee, Hagayya 4, 2017 kaafame. Humnootni tikaa humna garmalee fayyadamuun namoota kuma tokkoo (1000) ol ajjeesaniiru. Namoota kuma kurnaniin lakkaayaman ammo hidhaatti guuraniiru.

Seerri labsi muddamaa hojiirra oolchuuf itti dabalamee baye biyyattii guutuu keessatti mirgoota akka yaada ofii bilisaan ibsachuu, hiriira nagaa bayuufi ijaaramuu irratti dhorkaafi ukkaamsaa garmalee baldhaa kaayee. Tarkaanfiin kunimmoo rakkinoota mudatan humna waraanaan furuuf kallattii mootummaan kaayame agarsiisa. Seerichi hanga labsiin kun ka’utti mormii heeyyama mootumma hin arganne mara dhorkuun iddoolee labsiin kun murteesseetti ajaja mana murtii malee namoota hidhuus heeyyamee ture. Itti dabaluunis ‘’haaromsa’’- hidhaa yeroo gabaaba kan hojii humnaa dirqiin hojjachuu of-keessaa qabu heeyyame.

Yeroo labsii muddamaa sanitti humnootni waraanaa baayyinaan naannolee Oromiyaafi Amaaraa keessatti bobbaafamuun akka istaatistiksii mootummichaatti namoota kuma digdamii tokkoo (21,000) ol seeraan ala kaampiiwwaan haaromsa garaagaraatti hidhanii turan. Hidhamtoonni hedduun adabbii qaamaa hamaaf saaxilamuu isaaniifi imaammata mootummaa fudhachuuf waadaa galuun dirqii ta’uu dubbataniiru. Iddooleen namoonni kun itti hidhaman: kaampii waraanaa, maneen hidhaafi maneen yeroo gabaabaaf ijaaraman keessatti ture. Hidhamtoonni dararaafi reebichi hamaan mana hidhatti nurra gayeera jedhanis muraasa miti.  Aartistoonni, hoggantoonni paartilee mormituufi gaazexeessitoonni yakka siyaasa bu’uura godhateen himataman.

Dr Mararaa Guddinaa, dura taa’aan paartii kongiresii federaalistii Oromoo- Paartii seeraan galmayee,’’baatii Bitootessaa keessa sirna heeraa mootummaa cabsuutiin himatame. Inni hoggantoota paartii koongiresii federelaastii Oromoo kan akka itti aanaa paartichaa Obbo Baqqalaa Garbaafaatti dabalamuun himanni siyaasaa bu’uureffate irratti baname. Yeroo gabaasni kun barraayetti, akka istaatistiksii mootummaatti namoota yeroo labsii muddama qabamannii hidhaman keessaa 8000 ammayyu mana hidhaa jiru.

Mirga yaada ofii bilisaan ibsachuufi mirga ijaaramuu

Miidiyaan marti to’annoo mootumma jalatti kufaniiru. Towannoon kun yeroo labsii muddamaattimmo garmalee jabaate. Sababa kanaaf lammiileen biyyattii odeeffannoo piroopaagaandaa mootummaarra bilisa ta’e argachuuf garmalee rakkisaa ture. Filannoon gaazexeessitoonni hedduun qaban yookan ofiin of-laguu ykn hojjatanii reebamuufi hidhamuu ykn ammo biyyaa bayuu qofa ture. Bara 2010 as qofa gaazexeessitoonni 85 Itoophiyaarra baqatanii bayaniiru. Kana keessaa yooxiqqaate gaazexeessitoonni 6 bara 2017 baqatanii bayan.  Gaazeexeessitoonni danuun kan akka Iskindir Naggaaffi Wubishat Tayyeefaa hanga ammaatti labsii farra shorrorkeessumman yakkamanii mana hidhaa tursiifamaniiru. Gazexeessitoota dararuun alattis dhaabilee beeksisaa, maxxansaafi raabsaa doorsisuun tooftaalee dhaabbilee miidiyaale bilisaaratti dhiibbaan godhamuudha. Dhabamsiifamuu dhaabbilee miidiyaa biyya keessaa irraa kan ka’e miidiyaan hawaasaafi dhaabileen televiziyoonaa diyaaspooraa odeeffanno daddabarsuu keessatti shoora ol-aanaa taphataniiru. Motummaan yaalii towannoo dhabbilee televiziyoona diyaaspooraafi midiyaalee hawaasa 2017 keessa jabeessuun, yeroo labsii muddamaatti televiziyoonota diyaaspora ilaalu dhorkee ture. Dabalataanis raadiyoofi televiziyoonota diyaaspooraa ugguruun akkasumas maatii gaazexeessitoota fi madden odeeffannoo doorsisaa ture.  Ebla, 2017 dhaabbileen televiziyoonotaa diyaaspoora lamaan- Oromiya miidiyaa Netwoorki (OMN) fi ESAT, labsii ukkaamsa farra shorrerkussummaatiin himatamaniiru. Daarektarrii OMN, Jawaar Mohaammedis ji’a Eblaa, 2017 keessa seera yakkaatiin himatameera.

Mootummaan yeruma mara qaqqabinsa aappii miidiyaalee hawaasaafi marsariitota ilaalcha mootumiichaa faalleessan ugguraa ture. Yeroolee murteessoo akka yeroo qorumsa biyyoleessaafaa miliqee bayuu qorumsaa sodaachuun mootummaan intarneeta guutumatti uggureera.

Labsiin dhaabilee arjoominaafi siiviiki bara 2009 baye (CSO) ammayyu humna dhaabbilee miti mootummaa bilisa ta’anii hudhee qabee jira. Labsichi hojiiwwaan akka mirga namoomaa, bulchiinsa gaarii, walitti bu’insa furuufi dhaabblee mirga dubartootaa, daa’iimmaniifi qaama miidhamtootaaf bajata 10% ol biyya alaati argatanii dhorkee jira.

Reebichaafi dararaa mana hidhaa keessatti

Hidhaan seeraan alaafi reebichi mana hidhaa keessaati godhamu ammayyu rakkoo guddaa Itoophiyaati. Humnootni tikaa mootummaa, poolisiin federaalaa, humnootni basaastuu wayyaa siviilii uffatan dabalatee, poolisiin addaa fi raayyaan ittisa biyyaa hidhamtoota siyaasa mana hidhaa ifaa fi dhoksaa keessaatti yeroo heddu reebuun odeeffannoo humnaan irraa fuudhaniiru.

Namoonni baayyeen hiriira mormii bara 2015/2016 manneen hidhaafi kaampilee waraanaa garaagaraatti hidhaman akkasumas kanneen yeroo labsii muddamaa 2017 hidhaman maneen hidhaa keessaatti reebichiifi dararaan irra gayuu dubbatu. Dubartoonni heddu maneen hidhaa kessaatti humnoota tikaatiin gudeedamuufi reebamuu himatu. Humnootni tikaa yakka akkana raawwatan seeratti dhiyaachuu isaanii ragaan muldhatu hin jiru. Namoonni dur humna tikaa keessa hojjatan manneen hidhaa keessatti reebichaafi dararaan ragaa funaanaa turuu isaanii raga bayaniiru.

Dhiimmootaa siyaasaa hamoo irratti walabummaan mana murtiifii adeemsi seeraa baayyee yaaddessaadha. Manneen sirreessaa Finfinneen alaa jiran keessaati hidhamtoonni hin himataman, mana murtiittis hin dhiyaatan. Namonni karaa nagaa sagalee mormii dhiyeessan yeroo heddu labsii farra shorreerkeessummaan yakkamu. Miseensa dhaabbilee mootummaan shorreerkeessitoota jedhee labseeti jechuunis ni himatamu.  Murtiin adabbii himannaa akkanaa irratti darbu hanga hidhaa umurii guutuutti. Himannaa addaan kutuun hin baramne. Hidhamtoonni yakki reebichaa mana hidhaa keessatti nurra gayeera jedhanii yeroo himatan manni murti irra deddeebiin gurra duuchatee bira darbaa jira. Namoonni dhibbootaan lakkayaman, hoggantoonni paartilee mormituu, hirmaattoonni hiriira nagaa, aartitstoonniifi gaazexeessitoonni labsi farra shorrorkeessummaan yakkamanii mana hidhaatti dararamaa jiru.

Qaamnii mootummoota gamtoomanii hidhaa seeraan alaa qoratu bara 2005, 2007, 2009, 2011 fi 2015 irra deddeebiin himannaa kanarratti qorannoo gaaggeessuuf gaafatus mootummaan dhorkee jira.

Dhiittaa mirgaa Poolisiin Addaa Somaalee raawwatu

Poolisiin naannoo Somaalee dhiittaan mirgaa garmaleen beekamu ammas yakkoota hamaa dalaguu akkuma itti fufetti jira. Hawasni naannoo Oromiyaa daangaa naannoo Somaaleerra jiraatan irra deddeebiin humnoota poolisii addaa naannoo Somaleeti jedhamaniin haleelamuu himaniiru. Hawaasni daangaarra jiratan kun ajjeechana, lollii, saamichi qabeenyaafi qeyeerraa buqqayuun akka irra gaye himatu. Hawaasni Somaalees haleellaan haaloo bayumsaa humnoota Oromoo hin beekamneen irratti fudhatamu dubbatu. Hiyumaan raayitswoch yaalii mootummaan federaala haleellaa daangaarra kana dhaabuuf godhe homaayyu hin agarre. Namootni kuma dhibbootaan lakkaayaman sababa walitti bu’insa daangaarraatti deemaa jiruu kanaan qe’eefi qabeenya isaanirraa buqqayaniiru.

Poolisiin addaa naannoo Somaalee kun bara 2008 kan hundeeffame yoo ta’u itti gaafatama seeraa ifa hin taaneen socho’u. Garuummoo qabatamaan pirezideentii mootummaa naannoo Somaalee kan ta’e Abdi Mohamud Omariif abboomamu. Humnootni poolisii addaa kun yeroo garaagaraatti ajjeechaa seeraan alaa, reebichaafi dubartoota gudeeduun akkasumas uummata nagaa humna waraanaa Ogaaden deggaruun shakkaman rukutuun himatamu. Yakkoota gurguddoo humnootni kun naannoo Somaalee keessatti raawwatan jedhamanii himataman qorachuuf yaaliin hiika qabeessi godhame tokkoyyuu hin jiru.

Fedhiin Abdi Illeeyn mormitoota isaa ukkamsuuf qabu daangaa Itoophiyaa qofa keessatti kan daangeffame miti. Lammileen Somalee Itoophiyaa biyya alaa jiraataniis hiriira nagaa erga bayanii ykn barreeffamoota Abdi Illeey qeeqan miidiyaa hawaasa irratti yoo barreessan maatiin isaanii naanno Somalee jiraatan seeraan ala hidhamaniiru, reebamaniiru, qabeenyi isaaniis saaamameera.

Qooda dhaabbilee Idil-Adunyaa murteessoo

Qabinsi mirga namoomaa Itoophiya baayye badaa ta’ullee biyyattiin gargaarsa arjoota biyya alaafi gargaarsa biyyoota ollaa guddaa argachaa jirti. Saababiin gargaarsi kun itti fufee keessa muraasni: biyyattiin teessoo gamtaa Afrikaa ta’uusheefi taarsimoo naannawaa saniitti shoora murteessa waan taphattuuf, qaama nagaa eegsistuu mootummoota gamtoomanii waan taateef, waraanna farra-shorrorkeessitoota naannoo gaanfa Afrikaa keessatti sababa hirmaattuuf, dhimma baqattootaa irratti mootummoota dhiyaa faana michuummaan waan hojjattuufi guddina misooma gaalmeessite jedhamuufi. Itoophiyaan madda, karaafi buufata baqattoota hedduutis.

Paarlaamaan Awurooppaa, manni maree bakka bu’oota fi seenetiin Ameerikaa qabinsa mirga namoomaa Itoophiyaa balaaleffataniiru. Paarlaamaan Awuroppaa ajeechaa mormitoota bara 2015 eegale rawwate irratti qorannoon qaama mootummoota gamtoomaniin durfamuun akka godhamuuf hidhamtoonni siyaasa marti akka hiikaman waamicha godhee ture. Baatii Eblaa keessa bakka bu’aan dame mirga namoomaa gamtaa Awuroppaa addaa Istaavros Lambridinis Itoophiyaa deemee daawwachuun yaaddoo gamtaan Awurooppaa qabinsa mirga namoomaa Itoophiya irratti qabu mirkaneesseera. Dhaabbilen idil-adunyaa kanneen akka Baankii Adunyaa dhiittaa mirga namooma biyyattii irratti ifaan ifatti yaaddoo tokkollee otoo hin ibsiin hojii isaanii idilee itti fufanii jiru.

Itoophiyaan miseensa mana maree nageenyaafi mirga namoomaa Mootummoota gamtoomaniiti. Ta’ullee adeemsa addaa mootummoota gamtoomanii waliin hojjachuu akka diddeetti jirti. Erga raappoortarri addaa Eertiraa 2006 biyyattii seenee as gareen addaa mootummoota gamtoomanii tokkollee Itoophiyaa seenee qorachuuf heeyyama mootummaa hin arganne. Raapportaroonni reebichaa, mirga yaada ofii bilisaan ibsachuufi hiriira nagaa gaggeessuu biyyatti daawwachuuf yeroo garaa garaatti akka fedhan gaafatanii jiru.


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

Posted by OromianEconomist in Ethiopia's Colonizing Structure and the Development Problems of People of Oromia, Afar, Ogaden, Sidama, Southern Ethiopia and the Omo Valley, Ethnic Cleansing, Genocide, Horn of Africa Affairs, Human Rights, Human Rights Watch on Human Rights Violations Against Oromo People by TPLF Ethiopia, Oromian Affairs, Uncategorized.
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The Long Arm of Ethiopia Reaches for Those Who Fled

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

Posted by OromianEconomist in #OromoProtests.
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Ethiopia: Year of Brutality, Restrictions


Restore Rights, Address Grievances

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HRW, 12 January 2017


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(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.


HRW: The Year in Human Rights Videos December 22, 2016

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The Year in Human Rights Videos

The gunning down of peaceful protesters in Ethiopia. Animations depicting the devastation of Saudi Arabia’s male ‘guardianship’ system on women’s lives. From these to child brides and LGBT rights, here are the year’s most-watched videos on Human Rights Watch’s YouTube Channel.

1. When we pieced together cell phone footage showing the deaths of peaceful protesters in Ethiopia, it became by far our most-watched video this year – both in English and Amharic.

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.

 

2. Under Saudi Arabia’s guardianship system, women need a male guardian’s permission to marry, go to school, work, or even undergo certain medical procedures. This holds true even if a guardian – a father, husband, or even son – is abusive.

Saudi Arabia’s male guardianship system remains the most significant impediment to women’s rights in the country despite limited reforms over the last decade.

 

3. People who don’t conform to traditional ideas of gender in Sri Lanka face discrimination and abuse.

Transgender people and others who don’t conform to social expectations about gender face discrimination and abuse in Sri Lanka, including arbitrary detention, mistreatment, and discrimination accessing employment, housing, and health care. These abuses take place within a broader legal landscape that fails to recognize the gender identity of transgender people without abusive requirements; makes same-sex relations between consenting adults a criminal offense; and enables a range of abuses against LGBTI people by state officials and private individuals. The Sri Lankan government should protect the rights of transgender people and others who face similar discrimination.

 

4. Thirty-seven percent of girls in Nepal marry before age 18, and 10 percent are married by age 15.

Many children in Nepal are seeing their futures stolen from them by child marriage. Nepal’s government promises reform, but in towns and villages across the country, nothing has changed.

 

5. In Saudi Arabia, the permission of male guardians is required for women to be released from prison.

Saudi Arabia’s male guardianship system remains the most significant impediment to women’s rights in the country despite limited reforms over the last decade.

 

6. … and to travel.

Saudi Arabia’s male guardianship system remains the most significant impediment to women’s rights in the country despite limited reforms over the last decade.

 

7. How LGBT students are bullied in Japan…

The Japanese government has failed to protect lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) students from school bullying.

 

8. A victim shares how he escaped Boko Haram, and talks of those who couldn’t…

 

9. This man tells how he was tortured in a CIA-run detention center.

A Tunisian man formerly held in secret United States Central Intelligence Agency custody have described previously unreported methods of torture that shed new light on the earliest days of the CIA program. Lotfi al-Arabi El Gherissi, 52, recounted being severely beaten with batons, threatened with an electric chair, subjected to various forms of water torture, and being chained by his arms to the ceiling of his cell for a long period.

 

10. And at number 10, how tobacco companies make money off the backs — and health — of Indonesian child workers.

Thousands of children in Indonesia, some just 8 years old, are working in hazardous conditions on tobacco farms.

 

“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

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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 Watch: Civil Society Organisations: Joint letter to UN Human Rights Council on Ethiopia September 8, 2016

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HRWCivil Society

Geneva, 8 September 2016

To Permanent Representatives of
Members and Observer States of the
UN Human Rights Council
RE: Addressing the escalating human rights crisis in Ethiopia


Your Excellency,

The undersigned civil society organisations write to draw your attention to grave violations of human rights in Ethiopia, including the recent crackdown on largely peaceful protests in the Oromia and Amhara regions.

As the UN Human Rights Council prepares to convene for its 33rd session between 13 – 30 September 2016, we urge your delegation to prioritise and address through joint and individual statements the escalating human rights crisis in Ethiopia.

An escalating human rights crisis in Oromia and Amhara Regions

The situation in Ethiopia has become increasingly unstable since security forces repeatedly fired upon protests in the Amhara and Oromia regions in August 2016. On 6 and 7 August alone, Amnesty International reported at least 100 killings and scores of arrests during protests that took place across multiple towns in both regions. Protesters had taken to the streets throughout the Amhara and Oromia regions to express discontent over the ruling party’s dominance in government affairs, the lack of rule of law, and grave human rights violations for which there has been no accountability.

Protests in the Amhara region began peacefully in Gondar a month ago and spread to other towns in the region. A protest in Bahir Dar, the region’s capital, on 7 August turned violent when security forces shot and killed at least 30 people. Recently, on 30 August, stay-at-home strikers took to the streets of Bahir Dar again and were violently dispersed by security forces. According to the Association for Human Rights in Ethiopia (AHRE), in the week of 29 August alone, security forces killed more than 70 protesters and injured many more in cities and towns across Northern Amhara region.

Since November 2015, Ethiopian security forces have routinely used excessive and unnecessary lethal force to disperse and suppress the largely peaceful protests in the Oromia region. The protesters, who originally advocated against the dispossession of land without adequate compensation under the government’s Addis Ababa Integrated Development Master Plan, have been subjected to widespread rights violations. According to international and national human rights groups, at least 500 demonstrators have been killed and hundreds have suffered bullet wounds and beatings by police and military during the protests.

Authorities have also arbitrarily arrested thousands of people throughout Oromia and Amhara during and after protests, including journalists and human rights defenders. Many of those detained are being held without charge and without access to family members or legal representation. Many of those who have been released report torture in detention. The continued use of unlawful force to repress the movement has broadened the grievances of the protesters to human rights and rule of law issues.

The need for international, independent, thorough, impartial and transparent investigations

Following the attacks by security forces on protesters in Oromia earlier this year, five UN Special Procedures issued a joint statement noting that “the sheer number of people killed and arrested suggests that the Government of Ethiopia views the citizens as a hindrance, rather than a partner”, and underlining that “Impunity … only perpetuates distrust, violence and more oppression”.

In response to the recent crackdown, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, has called for “access for independent observers to the country to assess the human rights situation”. Ethiopia’s government, however, has rejected the call, instead indicating it would launch its own investigation. On 2 September, in a public media statement, the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights reiterated the UN High Commissioner’s call to allow a prompt and impartial investigation led by regional or international human rights bodies into the crackdown.

There are no effective avenues to pursue accountability for abuses given the lack of independence of the judiciary and legislative constraints. During the May 2015 general elections, the ruling EPRDF party won all 547 seats in the Ethiopian Parliament.

Ethiopia’s National Human Rights Commission, which has a mandate to investigate rights violations, has failed to make public its June report on the Oromia protests, whileconcluding in its oral report to Parliament that the lethal force used by security forces in Oromia was proportionate to the risk they faced from the protesters. The Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions has rated the Ethiopian National Human Rights Commission as B, meaning the latter has failed to meet fully the Paris Principles.

The High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs, Federica Mogherini, who met with Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn at the margins of the European Development Days in June 2016, has called on all parties to refrain from the use of force and for a constructive dialogue and engagement to take place without delay. On 28 August, after the EPRDF party’s general assembly, Prime Minister Hailemariam reportedly ordered the country’s military to take any appropriate measures to quell the protests, which he described as illegal and aimed at destabilising the nation. Following a similar call regarding the Oromia protests, security forces intensified the use of excessive force against protesters.

A highly restrictive environment for dialogue

Numerous human rights activists, journalists, opposition political party leaders and supporters have been arbitrarily arrested and detained. Since August 2016, four members of one of Ethiopia’s most prominent human rights organisations, the Human Rights Council (HRCO), were arrested and detained in the Amhara and Oromia regions. HRCO believes these arrests are related to the members’ monitoring and documentation of the crackdown of on-going protests in these regions.

Among those arrested since the protests began and still in detention are Colonel Demeke Zewdu (Member, Wolkait Identity Committee (WIC)), Getachew Ademe (Chairperson, WIC), Atalay Zafe (Member, WIC), Mebratu Getahun (Member, WIC), Alene Shama (Member, WIC), Addisu Serebe (Member, WIC), Bekele Gerba (Deputy Chair, Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC)), Dejene Tufa (Deputy General Secretary, OFC), Getachew Shiferaw (Editor-in-Chief of the online newspaper Negere Ethiopia), Yonathan Teressa (human rights defender) and Fikadu Mirkana (reporter with the state-owned Oromia Radio and TV).

Prominent human rights experts and groups, including the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, have repeatedly condemned the highly restrictive legal framework in Ethiopia. The deliberate misuse of the Anti-Terrorism Proclamation’s overbroad and vague provisions to target journalists and activists has increased as protests have intensified. The law permits up to four months of pre-trial detention and prescribes long prison sentences for a range of activities protected under international human rights law. Dozens of human rights defenders as well as journalists, bloggers, peaceful demonstrators and opposition party members have been subjected to harassment and politically motivated prosecution under the Anti-Terrorism Proclamation, making Ethiopia one of the leading jailers of journalists in the world.

In addition, domestic civil society organisations are severely hindered by one of the most restrictive NGO laws in the world. Specifically, under the 2009 Charities and Societies Proclamation, the vast majority of Ethiopian organisations have been forced to stop working on human rights and governance issues, a matter of great concern that has been repeatedly raised in international forums including at Ethiopia’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR).

This restrictive and worsening environment underscores the limited avenues available for dialogue and accountability in the country. It is essential that the UN Human Rights Council take a strong position urging the Ethiopian government to immediately allow an international, thorough, independent, transparent and impartial investigation into alleged human rights abuses committed in the context of the government’s response to the largely peaceful protests.

As a member – and Vice-President – of the Human Rights Council, Ethiopia has an obligation to “uphold the highest standards” of human rights, and “fully cooperate” with the Council and its mechanisms (GA Resolution 60/251, OP 9). Yet for the past ten years, it has consistently failed to accept country visit requests by numerous Special Procedures.

During the upcoming 33rd session of the Human Rights Council, we urge your delegation to make joint and individual statements reinforcing and building upon the expressions of concern by the High Commissioner, UN Special Procedures, and others.

Specifically, the undersigned organisations request your delegation to urge Ethiopia to:

  1. immediately cease the use of excessive and unnecessary lethal force by security forces against protesters in Oromia and Amhara regions and elsewhere in Ethiopia;
  2. immediately and unconditionally release journalists, human rights defenders, political opposition leaders and members as well as protesters arbitrarily detained during and in the aftermath of the protests;
  3. respond favourably to country visit requests by UN Special Procedures;
  4. urgently allow access to an international, thorough, independent, impartial and transparent investigation into all of the deaths resulting from alleged excessive use of force by the security forces, and other violations of human rights in the context of the protests;
  5. ensure that those responsible for human rights violations are prosecuted in proceedings which comply with international law and standards on fair trials and without resort to the death penalty; and
  6. fully comply with its international legal obligations and commitments including under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, and its own Constitution.

Amnesty International
Association for Human Rights in Ethiopia
CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation
Civil Rights Defenders
DefendDefenders (East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project)
Ethiopian Human Rights Project
FIDH (International Federation for Human Rights)
Foundation for Human Rights Initiative
Freedom House
Front Line Defenders
Global Center for the Responsibility to Protect
Human Rights Watch
International Service for Human Rights
Reporters Without Borders
World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT)

Human Rights Watch: Peaceful Protesters Gunned Down in Ethiopia. #OromoProtests June 16, 2016

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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. 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.The Ethiopian government should urgently support a credible, independent investigation into the killings, arbitrary arrests, and other abuses. –   By HRW,  Jun 15, 2016


 


Hiyumaan Raayit Wochiin gabaasa har’a baasen, humnoonni nageenyaa Itiyoophiyaa yeroo mormiin Oromiyaa keessatti baldhinaan gaggeeffamen Sadaasa 2015 eegalee namoota 400 ol kan ajjeesan yoo ta’u kan kuma kudhaniin lakkaawwaman immoo hidhanii jiru. Mootumman Itiyoophiyaa ragaa amanama ta’en akka utubu, qaama bilisa ta’e tokko hundeesun waayee namoota ajeefamanii akka qoratu, waayee namoota badii tokko malee hidhamaniifii dhiitamuu mirga namaa adda addaa gabaasa akka dhiheesu. HRW June 15, 2016


HRW: Oromia: Ethiopia: No Let Up in Crackdown on Protests Killings, Detention of Protesters Enter Fourth Month February 22, 2016

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Ethiopia: No Let Up in Crackdown on Protests

Killings, Detention of Protesters Enter Fourth Month

By Human Rights Watch, 21 February 2016

(Nairobi) – Ethiopian security forces are violently suppressing the largely peaceful protests in the Oromia region that began in November 2015. Almost daily accounts of killings and arbitrary arrests have been reported to Human Rights Watch since 2016 began.

Security forces, including military personnel, have fatally shot scores of demonstrators. Thousands of people have been arrested and remain in detention without charge. While the frequency of protests appears to have decreased in the last few weeks, the crackdown continues.

Protesters in Oromia region, Ethiopia.

Protesters in Oromia region, Ethiopia, December 2015.

“Flooding Oromia with federal security forces shows the authorities’ broad disregard for peaceful protest by students, farmers and other dissenters,” said Leslie Lefkow, deputy Africa director at Human Rights Watch. “The government needs to rein in the security forces, free anyone being held wrongfully, and hold accountable soldiers and police who used excessive force.”

The Ethiopian government has said that the situation in Oromia is largely under control following the government’s retraction on January 12 of the proposed “Addis Ababa Integrated Development Master Plan.” The controversial proposal to expand the municipal boundaries of the capital, Addis Ababa, into farmland in Oromia sparked the initial demonstrations.

The plan’s cancellation did not halt the protests however, and the crackdown continued throughout Oromia. In late January 2016, Human Rights Watch interviewed approximately 60 protesters and other witnesses from various parts of the Oromia region in December and January who described human rights violations during the protests, some since mid-January. They said that security forces have shot randomly into crowds, summarily killed people during arrests, carried out mass roundups, and tortured detainees.

Women mourn during the funeral ceremony of a primary school teacher who family members said was shot dead by military forces during protests in Oromia, Ethiopia in December 2015. December 17, 2015.

Women mourn during the funeral ceremony of a primary school teacher who family members said was shot dead by military forces during protests in Oromia, Ethiopia in December 2015. December 17, 2015.

While there have been some reports of violence during the protests, including the destruction of some foreign-owned farms and looting of some government buildings, most of the protests since November have been peaceful. On February 12, federal security forces fired on a bus after a wedding, killing four people, provoking further protests. A February 15 clash between federal security forces and armed men believed to be local police or militias, resulted in the deaths of seven security officers, according to the government.

On January 10, security forces threw a grenade at students at Jimma University in western Oromia, injuring dozens, eyewitnesses reported. Multiple witnesses told Human Rights Watch that security forces stormed dormitories at Jimma University on January 10 and 11, with mass arrests and beatings of Oromo students.

Security forces have arrested students, teachers, government officials, businesspeople, opposition politicians, healthcare workers, and people who provide assistance or shelter to fleeing students. Because primary and secondary school students in Oromia were among the first to protest, many of those arrested have been children, under age 18.

Security forces harassing students in Oromia, January 2016.

Security forces harassing students in Oromia, January 2016.

“They walked into the compound and shot three students at point-blank range,” one 17-year-old student said describing security force reaction to students chanting against the master plan. “They were hit in the face and were dead.”

Human Rights Watch spoke to 20 people who had been detained since the protests began on November 12, none of whom had been taken before a judge. Fourteen people said they were beaten in detention, sometimes severely. Several students said they were hung up by their wrists while they were whipped. An 18-year-old student said he was given electric shocks to his feet. All the students interviewed said that the authorities accused them of mobilizing other students to join the protests. Several women who were detained alleged that security officers sexually assaulted and otherwise mistreated them in detention.

The descriptions fit wider patterns of torture and ill-treatment of detainees that Human Rights Watch and other rights groups have documented in Oromia’s many official and secret detention facilities. Numerous witnesses and former detainees said that security forces are using businesses and government buildings in West Shewa and Borana zones as makeshift detention centers.

At time of writing, some schools and universities remain closed throughout Oromia because the authorities have arrested teachers and closed facilities to prevent further protests, or students do not attend as a form of protest or because they fear arrest. Many students said they were released from detention on the condition that they would not appear in public with more than one other individual, and several said they had to sign a document making this commitment as a condition for their release.

Human Rights Watch has not been able to verify the total numbers of people killed and arrested given restrictions on access and independent reporting in Ethiopia. Activists allege that more than 200 people have been killed since November 12, based largely on material collated from social media videos, photos, and web posts. Available information suggests that several thousand people have been arrested, many of whose whereabouts are unknown, which would be a forcible disappearance.

Human Rights Watch has documented 12 additional killings previously unreported. Most of these occurred in Arsi and Borana Zones in southern Oromia, where protests have also been taking place but have received less attention than elsewhere. This suggests that the scale of the protests and abuses across Oromia may be greater than what has been reported, Human Rights Watch said.

The Ethiopian government’s pervasive restrictions on independent civil society groups and media have meant that very little information is coming from affected areas. However, social media contains photos and videos of the protests, particularly from November and December.

The Oromia Media Network (OMN) has played a key role in disseminating information throughout Oromia during the protests. OMN is a diaspora-based television station that relays content, primarily in the Afan Oromo language, via satellite, and recently started broadcasting on shortwave radio. The Ethiopian government has reportedly jammed OMN 15 times since it began operations in 2014, in contravention of international regulations. Two business owners told Human Rights Watch they were arrested for showing OMN in their places of business. Federal police destroyed satellites dishes that were receiving OMN in many locations. Students said they were accused of providing videos for social media and of communicating information to the OMN. Arrests and fear of arrest has resulted in less information on abuses coming out of Oromia over the last month.

The Ethiopian government should end the excessive use of force by the security forces, free everyone detained arbitrarily, and conduct an independent investigation into killings and other security force abuses, Human Rights Watch said. Those responsible for serious rights violations should be appropriately prosecuted and victims of abuses should receive adequate compensation.

On January 21, the European Parliament passed a strong resolution condemning the crackdown. There has been no official statement from the United Kingdom, and the United States has not condemned the violence, instead focusing on the need for public consultation and dialogue in two statements. Otherwise, few governments have publicly raised concerns about the government’s actions. As two of Ethiopia’s most influential partners, the United Kingdom and the United States should be doing more to halt the violent crackdown and to call for an independent investigation into the abuses, Human Rights Watch said.

“Ethiopia’s donor countries have responded tepidly, if at all, to the killing of scores of protesters in Oromia,” Lefkow said. “They should stop ignoring or downplaying this shocking brutality and call on the government to support an independent investigation into the killings and other abuses.”

For additional information and accounts from eyewitnesses and victims, please see below.

Student protests in Oromia began on November 12, 2015, 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. The protests soon spread throughout the Oromia region and broadened to include concerns over the proposed expansion of the Addis Ababa municipal boundary, known as the “Addis Ababa Integrated Development Master Plan.” Farmers and others joined the protest movement as the protests continued into December.

Many protesters allege that the government’s violent response and the rising death toll changed the focus of the protests to the killing and arrest of protesters and decades of historic Oromo grievances came to the forefront. Oromia is home to most of Ethiopia’s estimated 35 million Oromo, the country’s largest ethnic group. Many Oromo feel marginalized and discriminated against by successive Ethiopian governments. Ethnic Oromo who express dissent are often arrested and tortured or otherwise ill-treated in detention, accused of belonging to the Oromo Liberation Front, which has waged a limited armed struggle against the government and which parliament has designated a terrorist organization.

On December 16, Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn said that the government “will take merciless legitimate action against any force bent on destabilizing the area.” The same day, the government communication affairs office minister, Getachew Reda, said that “an organized and armed terrorist force aiming to create havoc and chaos has begun murdering model farmers, public leaders and other ethnic groups residing in the region.” Since that time, federal security forces, including the army and the federal police, have led the law enforcement response in Oromia.

On January 12, the ruling coalition’s Oromia affiliate, the Oromo People’s Democratic Organization (OPDO), announced on state television that the “Addis Ababa Master Plan” would be cancelled. While the decision was an unprecedented change of policy, people Human Rights Watch interviewed suggest that there has been confusion over the actual status of the plan and whether government will follow through with the cancellation.

After the Addis Ababa master plan had originally been announced in 2014, protests occurred throughout Oromia, which security forces dispersed using live ammunition, killing at least several dozen people. Hundreds were arrested. Many of the arrested remain in custody without charge. Most of the approximately 25 students that Human Rights Watch interviewed from the 2014 protests who had been detained alleged torture and other ill-treatment. Many formerly detained students have not been permitted to return to their universities. On December 2, 2015, five Oromo students were convicted under the counterterrorism law for their role in the 2014 protests. There has been no government investigation into the use of excessive and lethal force during the 2014 protests.

Summary Killings, Unnecessary Lethal Force
In the early weeks of the 2015 protests, security forces who responded to the demonstrations were largely Oromia regional police, who used teargas against protesters, although with some incidents involving live ammunition. Many of the killings initially reported occurred after dark when security forces went house-to-house searching for protesters. They killed some students who tried to flee and others in scuffles during arrests, while the exact circumstances of many deaths are unknown.

Under international human rights standards, law enforcement officials may only use lethal force in self-defense or to prevent an imminent threat to another’s life.

After a December 16 announcement by the prime minister that the government would “take merciless legitimate action against any force bent on destabilizing the area,” witnesses said federal police and military forces were deployed in more parts of Oromia alongside the regional police. Many protesters alleged that the federal police and soldiers fired into crowds.

Wako – a 17-year-old protester from West Shewa whose name, along with others, has been changed for his protection, described the change:

During the first protest [in mid-November], the Oromia police tried to convince us to go home. We refused so they broke it up with teargas and arrested many. Several days later we had another protest. This time the [federal police] had arrived. They fired many bullets into the air. When people did not disperse they fired teargas, and then in the confusion we heard the sounds of more bullets and students started falling next to me. My friend [name withheld] was killed by a bullet. He wasn’t targeted, they were just shooting randomly into the crowd.

Gudina, a 16-year-old Grade 10 student from Arsi Negelle, described the authorities’ response to a protest in early December:

All the schools got together and took to the streets. As we protested, teargas was thrown, we kept marching and then from behind us we heard bullets, many students were hit and fell screaming. One very young student from my school I saw had been shot in throat and blood was pouring. I have dreams every night of that student.

Protesters from Arsi, West Shewa, Borana, and East Wollega zones all described similar events in which security forces, predominantly federal police, shot into crowds with live ammunition, especially since mid-December. They gave little or no warning about using teargas and live ammunition.

Three high school students from Arsi who were interviewed separately described an incident at their school. Kuma, a 17-year-old student, said:

We heard a Grade 6 student was killed in [neighboring village]. To show our solidarity we decided to protest. When the different classes came together and started marching toward the government office, security forces moved toward us. They threw teargas, and then we heard the sound of gunfire. My friend [name withheld] was shot in the chest, I saw him go down and bleeding. We ran away and I never looked back. His mother told me later he had been killed. He was 17 years old.

Security forces entered a school compound near Shashemene apparently to discourage their participation in a planned protest. Gameda, a 17-year-old Grade 9 student, said:

We had planned to protest. At 8 a.m., Oromia police came into the school compound. They arrested four students [from Grades 9-11], the rest of us were angry and started chanting against the police. Somebody threw a stone at the police and they quickly left and came back an hour later with the federal police. They walked into the compound and shot three students at point-blank range. They were hit in the face and were dead. They took the bodies away. They held us in our classrooms for the rest of the morning, and then at noon they came in and took about 20 of us including me.

Arbitrary Arrests, Detention
Several dozen people told Human Rights Watch about friends and colleagues who had been arrested without a valid basis, including many whose whereabouts remain unknown. Fifteen protesters from various parts of Oromia described their own arrests. Usually in the evening following a daytime protest, security forces would go door-to-door arresting students, including many who had not participated, including an 8-year-old in the Borana zone on January 9. They primarily targeted men and boys, but many women and girls were also arrested. Those arrested were taken to police stations, military barracks, and makeshift detention centers.

Kuma, a Grade 7 student from Borana zone, was arrested in early December, held for five days in an unknown location, and beaten with a wooden stick:

They said to me “Why were you in the demonstration? This means you do not like the government. Why? We do good for you.” Then they kept saying we had relations with the OLF [Oromo Liberation Front, which the government considers to be a terrorist group]. What does demonstrating have to do with the OLF? I was released after signing a paper that I would not go in public with more than one person. Many people in our town were released after signing this paper. Several days later there was another protest, I didn’t go, but knew I would be arrested again. I sat at home hearing gunshots all day long hoping I didn’t know any of those that would be killed.

Gameda, a Grade 7 student, said he was arrested at his school compound on the day of a planned protest:

For 10 days I was held at the police station. For the first three days, they would beat me each night on the back and legs with a wooden stick and ask me about who was behind the protests and whether I was a member of the OLF. I was released and several weeks later the protests started again in our town. They arrested me again. Same beatings, same questions. My family bribed the police and I was released.

The authorities have imposed collective punishment on people deemed to have been helping protesters. Lelisa, a woman who assisted students fleeing the security forces in Arsi in early December, said:

I wasn’t at the protests but I heard gunfire all day long and into the night. Students were running away and hiding themselves. Ten students came to me and asked for help so I hid them from the police. The police were going door-to-door at night arresting students. They came to my house, arrested all the boys and I convinced them that the three girls were my daughters. Then an hour later they came back and arrested my husband. They beat him in front of me, when I begged them not to kill him they kicked me and hit me with the butt of their gun. They took him away. I have heard nothing from him since.

Negasu, an owner of a private school, said he was arrested because students at his school were involved in the protest:

I owned a private school in [location withheld]. The students protested but the police did not break it up violently, they just filmed it and then arrested many people at night. Four of the protesters were from my school. So the police came at night and arrested me and took me to a military camp [name withheld]. For five days I was held in a dark hole by myself. It was freezing and they did not feed me for two days. I was beaten each night and accused of giving money to opposition groups, to the Oromo Federalist Congress and to OLF. They also accused me of posting videos to social media and sending to OMN. They just make things up. They closed my school and froze my bank account. They took my house also. Now I have nothing and the students are either going through what I did in detention or are not able to go to school because it’s been closed.

Students who were perceived to be vocal or had family histories of opposing government were particularly at risk. Lencho, 25, said:

I was known to be vocal and was a leader among the students. My father was known to oppose the government. I did not even participate in the protests because of fear but I was identified as one of the mobilizers. I was arrested, and when I got to the police station I saw local government officials, a local Oromo artist [singer], my teacher, and all of the outspoken students of our high school. They were arresting those that they thought were influential. I don’t even think any of them were in the protests because of fear.

Prominent Oromo intellectuals, including senior members of the Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC), a registered political party, have also been arrested. On December 23, Deputy Chairman Bekele Gerba was arrested at his home and taken to Addis Ababa’s Maekelawi prison, where torture and other ill-treatment have been documented. On January 22, he appeared in court, and prosecutors were granted an additional 28 days for investigation, suggesting he is being investigated under the abusive Anti-Terrorism Proclamation. Bekele has been a moderate voice in Oromia politics and a staunch advocate for non-violence.

In addition to those perceived to be actively involved in the protests, security forces have arrested influential people, including prominent Oromo businessman, teachers, professors, and numerous singers and artists. One teacher said:

The students protested. At night they came and arrested many of them, my students were calling me all night to tell me the police were at their door. Then I heard that most of the teachers had been arrested, too. I was away from town at the time. Then the woreda[district] administrator called and told me I was to be held responsible for my student’s behavior since I did not talk them out of it. I had already been in trouble because I did not attend a workshop at the school on the master plan and how we were to convince students it was good for them.

A well-known Oromo singer, now living in exile, said:

I released a song on Youtube [in December] that spoke about the protests and the need for students to stop the silence and speak out about the abuses our people face. I had been arrested three times previously for my songs. My songs have always focused on Oromo history and culture but I was always careful for the songs not to be seen as political in any way. But they arrest you anyway. After my third detention, I stopped censoring myself and spoke openly through my music. Hours after my song was released, I got word from the local administrator that I was to be arrested so I ran away from my home and haven’t been back.

An Ethiopian intelligence official acknowledged to Human Rights Watch in January 2016 that targeting public figures was a deliberate government policy. “It is important to target respected Oromos,” he said. “Anyone that has the ability to mobilize Oromos will be targeted, from the highest level like Bekele, to teachers, respected students, and Oromo artists.”

Human Rights Watch also interviewed a number of students who had been detained during the 2014 protests, eventually released, and then were arrested again as soon as the protests began in November 2015. Some described horrendous treatment in detention. Waysira, a then-second year university student, said:

[In 2014] I was arrested for two weeks. I was stripped to my underwear and beaten with sticks. They applied electric wires to my back. They wanted me to admit being OLF and to say where my brother was – who they suspect was OLF. Eventually they released me. I wasn’t allowed to go back to school, so I have been sitting around doing nothing ever since. I went back to my family’s village. When the protests started again in Oromia, they came to my house and arrested me again. There hadn’t been protests in that area, but there were on the campus I had been suspended from. They accused me of mobilizing students, and beat me for two days. Then I was released. They wanted to target anyone they thought might be thinking of protesting.

Torture, Ill-Treatment in Detention
All of the students interviewed who had been detained said the authorities interrogated them about who was behind the protests and about their family history. They said interrogators accused them of having connections to opposition groups – typically the legally registered Oromo Federalist Congress and the banned Oromo Liberation Front. Interrogators accused some students of providing information to diaspora or international media and a number of students said their phones, Facebook accounts, and email accounts were searched during detention. These descriptions of interrogation match patterns Human Rights Watch has documented in Oromia over several years.

Tolessa, a first-year university student from Adama University, said:

It was the evening after the protest. We were recovering from the teargas and trying to find out who had been shot during the protest. Then the security forces stormed the dormitories. They blindfolded 17 of us from my floor and drove us two hours into the countryside. We were put into an unfinished building for nine days. Each night they would take us out one by one, beat us with sticks and whips, and ask us about who was behind the protests and whether we were members of the OLF. I told them I don’t even know who the OLF are but treating students this way will drive people toward the OLF. They beat me very badly for that. We would hear screams all night long. When I went to the bathroom, I saw students being hung by their wrists from the ceiling and being whipped. There was over a hundred students I saw. The interrogators were not from our area. We had to speak Amharic [the national language]. If we spoke Oromo they would get angry and beat us more.

Meti, in her 20s, was arrested in late December for selling traditional Oromo clothes the day after a protest in East Wollega:

I was arrested and spent one week at the police station. Each night they pulled me out and beat me with a dry stick and rubber whip. Then I was taken to [location withheld]. I was kept in solitary confinement. On three separate occasions I was forced to take off my clothes and parade in front of the officers while I was questioned about my link with the OLF. They threatened to kill me unless I confessed to being involved with organizing the protests. I was asked why I was selling Oromo clothes and jewelry. They told me my business symbolizes pride in being Oromo and that is why people are coming out [to protest]. At first I was by myself in a dark cell, but then I was with all the other girls that had been arrested during the protest.

A 22-year-old woman told Human Rights Watch she was arrested the night of a protest in late December and taken to what she described as a military camp in the Borana zone. She was held in solitary confinement in total darkness. She said she was raped on three occasions in her cell by unidentified men during her two-week detention. On each occasion, she believed there were two men involved. She was frequently pulled out of her cell and interrogated about her involvement in the protests and the whereabouts of her two brothers, who the interrogators suggested were mobilizing students. She was released on the condition that she would bring her two brothers to security officials for questioning.

Right to Health, Education
The authorities have targeted health workers for arrest during the protests, and as a result some wounded protesters have been unable to get treatment. Demiksa, a student from Eastern Wollega, said that he was refused medical treatment in late December for his injured arm and face after he was pushed to the ground in a panic when Oromia regional police fired teargas at protesters: “[The health workers] said they couldn’t treat me. The day before security forces had arrested two of their colleagues because they were treating protesters. They were accused of providing health care to the opposition.”

Health workers said security forces harassed them and arrested some of their colleagues because they posted photos on social media showing their arms crossed in what has become a symbol of the protest movement. A health worker in East Wollega said he had been forced at gunpoint to treat a police officer’s minor injuries while student protesters with bullet wounds were left unattended. The health worker said at least one of those students died from his injuries that evening.

Many students said the local government closed schools to prevent students from mobilizing, or because teachers had been arrested. Some students said they were afraid to go to class or were refusing to go to school as a form of protest against the government. Four students who had been detained said that security officials told them that they would not be allowed to return to their university. A Grade 6 student who said she had the highest marks in her class the previous year said that the principal told her she would not be allowed to go back to school because she attended the protests. As a result, she decided to flee Ethiopia.

Human Rights Watch previously documented cases of students who were suspended after they participated in the 2014 protests, a pattern that is also emerging in the aftermath of the current protests.

https://www.hrw.org/news/2016/02/21/ethiopia-no-let-crackdown-protests

EU should condemn Ethiopia’s crackdown on #Oromoprotests January 13, 2016

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EU should condemn Ethiopia’s crackdown on Oromo protests

IFEXT 12th January, 2016

This statement was originally published by hrw.org on 12 January 2016.European Union officials should convey serious concerns about Ethiopian security forces’ use of excessive lethal force against protesters when meeting with Ethiopia’s foreign minister, Human Rights Watch said today. The foreign minister, Dr. Tedros Adhanom, will meet with EU officials on January 12 and13, 2016, in Brussels.

Ethiopian security forces have engaged in a violent crackdown against protesters in Ethiopia’s Oromia region, killing scores of protesters and arresting many others. The protests began in mid-November 2015, in response to plans to expand the capital, Addis Ababa, into Oromia farmland, but have expanded in response to other longstanding concerns as well as the crackdown on protesters.

“The European Union should break its silence and condemn Ethiopia’s brutal use of force to quell the Oromo protests,” said Lotte Leicht, EU advocacy director at Human Rights Watch. “The EU, which is among Ethiopia’s biggest donors, should press the Ethiopian government to respond with talks rather than gunfire to the protesters’ grievances.”

The Ethiopian government has frequently used arbitrary arrests and politically motivated prosecutions to silence journalists, bloggers, protesters, and political opponents.

Ethiopia Attacks Freedom of Assembly

http://www.bignewsnetwork.com/news/240197955/eu-should-condemn-ethiopia-crackdown-on-oromo-protests

 

EU: Press Ethiopia on Protester Killings

(reliefweb) Meeting With Foreign Minister in Brus
(Brussels, January 12, 2016) – European Union officials should convey serious concerns about Ethiopian security forces’ use of excessive lethal force against protesters when meeting with Ethiopia’s foreign minister, Human Rights Watch said today. The foreign minister, Dr. Tedros Adhanom, will meet with EU officials on January 12 and13, 2016, in Brussels.
Ethiopian security forces have engaged in a violent crackdown against protesters in Ethiopia’s Oromia region, killing scores of protesters and arresting many others. The protests began in mid-November 2015, in response to plans to expand the capital, Addis Ababa, into Oromia farmland, but have expanded in response to other longstanding concerns as well as the crackdown on protesters.
“The European Union should break its silence and condemn Ethiopia’s brutal use of force to quell the Oromo protests,” said Lotte Leicht, EU advocacy director at Human Rights Watch. “The EU, which is among Ethiopia’s biggest donors, should press the Ethiopian government to respond with talks rather than gunfire to the protesters’ grievances.”
The Ethiopian government has frequently used arbitrary arrests and politically motivated prosecutions to silence journalists, bloggers, protesters, and political opponents.
http://shegervoice.blogspot.co.uk/2016/01/eu-press-ethiopia-on-protester-killings.html

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: Human rights defender says Ethiopian govt’s attacks on Oromo children and youth are cruel, brutal December 16, 2015

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???????????Human rights League of the Horn of AfricahrwlogoStop killing Oromo StudentsAgazi, fascist TPLF Ethiopia's forces attacking unarmed and peaceful #OromoProtests in Baabichaa town central Oromia (w. Shawa) , December 10, 2015

Human rights defender says Ethiopian govt’s attacks on Oromo children and youth are cruel, brutal

Muddee/December 16, 2015 · Finfinne Tribune | Gadaa.com

The following is a report by the Human Rights League of the Horn of Africa (HRLHA) …

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Ethiopia: Extreme Cruelties and Brutalities against Oromo Children and Youth

HRLHA Urgent Action

For Immediate Release

The Oromo students’ protests(1), which were re-ignited in November 2015, in opposition to the so called “Addis Ababa Integrated Master Plan” – Ethiopian Federal Government’s plan of systematic ethnic cleansing aimed at the Oromo People, and which spread in a few days to almost all schools and universities in the Regional State of Oromia, have already claimed the lives of dozens of Oromo students; and is threatening hundreds of others. Below in the table is the list of nine Oromo students who have been confirmed dead in the past seven days being shot at and killed in cold-blooded by the Ethiopian armed squad of the Agazi Force:

mass killings and arrests in Oromia by fascist TPLF Ethiopia as of December 15, 2015

Four Oromo youth from Fincha, Horro Guduru: Zarihun Raggassa, Wakjira Gaddisa, Meseret Tilahun (female), and Alemu Likkisa were taken to hospital on the 6th of December 2015, with life-threatening wounds and injuries from shots and assaults; and no words regarding their situations since then.

The unarmed and defenseless Oromo students are facing extreme and fatal brutalities (see below) while staging peaceful protests to seek answers to their legitimate questions regarding the expansion of the city of Addis Ababa without the consultations and consents of the local people, which is likely to cause the evictions of millions of Oromo farmers from their livelihoods. Although there are no confirmed fatalities at this point, about 200 children from Sululta High School, Northern Showa, have been rushed to St. Paul Hospital in the Capital, Addis Ababa, on the 6th of December 2015, after being poisoned in a classroom with yet unknown chemical that was sprayed into the air by the security forces.

Innocent children and youth are being shot at and killed, threatened with mass murders with poisonous chemicals just while attempting to exercise their fundamental rights within the limits of the provisions of both the federal and regional constitutions. The biggest of all ironies is that forces like the federal military, the federal and the regional police, who were established and hired to defend the constitutions of all levels are instead engaged in violating and breaking such legal provisions intended to protect the citizens. The Human Rights League of the Horn of Africa is receiving continuous and credible reports from different corners of the Regional State of Oromia in Ethiopia that members of TPLF special squad of the Agazi Force as well as the police are taking such fatal actions and assaults in the open air in daylights in front of the local residents in order to terrorize, intimidate and harass the whole communities.

The Human Rights League of the Horn of Africa (HRLHA) strongly believes that the Ethiopian Government’s cruel actions against humanity, against its own citizens, are purely genocidal. HRLHA would like to express its deep concerns that, given the situations witnessed in the past seven days, more human casualties could take place; and, therefore, calls for unconditional interference by the world communities in order that such extreme brutalities be stopped before inflicting further losses of lives and other human damages.

The HRLHA is a non-political organization that attempts to challenge abuses of human rights of the people of various nations and nationalities in the Horn of Africa. It works to defend fundamental human rights, including freedoms of thought, expression, movement and association. It also works to raise the awareness of individuals about their own basic human rights and those of others. It encourages respect for laws and due process. It promotes the growth and development of free and vigorous civil societies.

– HRLHA

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Copied to:

– UNESCO Headquarters
– UNESCO – Africa Department
– UNESCO – Africa Regional Office
– Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights
– Office of the UNHCR
– African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR)
– Council of Europe
– U.S. Department of State – Ethiopia Desk

—–

References:

(1) http://www.humanrightsleague.org/?p=14287; http://www.humanrightsleague.org/?p=14668; http://www.humanrightsleague.org/?p=15430; http://www.humanrightsleague.org/?p=15667

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Viewer Discretion Advised (Partial List of the Deceased and the Wounded):

http://gadaa.net/FinfinneTribune/2015/12/ethiopia-human-rights-defender-says-attacks-on-oromo-children-youth-are-cruel-and-brutal/

Oromia/Ethiopia: Human rights defender says attacks on Oromos are ethnic cleansing war crimes. December 9, 2015

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???????????Human rights League of the Horn of AfricaStop killing Oromo StudentsOromo students Protests, Western Oromia, Mandii, Najjoo, Jaarsoo,....

Oromia/Ethiopia: Human rights defender says attacks on Oromos are ethnic cleansing war crimes.

 

Oromia/Ethiopia: Region-Wide, Heavy-Handed Crackdown on Peaceful Protesters

HRLHAHRLHA Urgent Action

For Immediate Release

The Human Rights League of the Horn of Africa (HRLHA) expresses its grave concern at the continuation of gross human rights violations in Oromia Regional State – violations that have regularly occurred since 1991 when the TPLF/EPRDF came into power.

The most recent heinous crime was committed – and is still being committed – against defenseless schoolchildren protesting against the approval of “the Addis Ababa Integrated Master Plan” by the Oromia Regional State Parliament a month ago. The peaceful protest involved many elementary school, high school and university students, and civilians. Among them were students in Western Oromia zones: Najo, Nekemt, Mandi high schools, and in other towns, in Central Oromia in Ginchi, Ambo, Addis Ababa high schools and the surrounding towns, Eastern and Southern Oromia zones, in Haromaya, and Bule Hora Universities, and many more schools and universities. In violation of the rights of the citizen to peaceful demonstration enshrined in the Ethiopian Constitution(1) [Chapter Two, Article 30 (1) states: “Everyone has the right to assemble and to demonstrate together with others peaceably and unarmed, and to petition. Appropriate regulations may be made in the interest of public convenience relating to the location of open-air meetings and the route of movement of demonstrators or, for the protection of democratic rights, public morality and peace during such a meeting or demonstration.”], students, in all of these places, were severely beaten, imprisoned or even killed.

The Human Rights League of the Horn of Africa emphasizes that the ongoing violence and crimes committed in Oromia Regional State for over two and a half decades by the TPLF perpetrators against the Oromo Nation amount to war crimes, and crimes against humanity – a clear failure of the Oromo People Democratic Organization (OPDO) authorities, an organization claiming to represent the Oromo Nation. The members of this bogus political organization have proved to be not the Oromo peoples’ true representatives, but rather stand-ins for their real masters who have compromised the interests of the Oromo Nation. The Oromia Regional State authorities/OPDO did not resist the TPLF regime when Oromo children, farmers, intellectuals, members of political organizations were killed, abducted, imprisoned, tortured and evicted from their livelihoods by TPLF security agents in the past two and half decades. Instead, they helped the TPLF regime to control the political and economic resources of the Oromia Regional State. TPLF high officials and ordinary level cadres in Oromia Regional State engaged in enriching themselves and their family members by selling Oromo land, looting and embezzling public wealth and properties in the occupied areas of the Oromo Nation, and committing many other forms of corruption.

Committing atrocities and crimes against humanity are failures to comply with obligations under international law, international human rights law and international humanitarian law, including the principles of proportionality and discrimination. With many civilians suffering from the crimes and serious violations of human rights, and by not taking any measures to ensure the accountability of those responsible for these crimes and violations, it has become clear that after all these years the so called Oromia Parliament (Caffee Oromiyaa) has betrayed the Oromo people by not protecting them. The OPDO members and the Oromia Parliament (Caffee Oromiyaa) members should not continue in silence while Oromo children are brutalized by Aga’azy squads deployed by the TPLF for ethnic cleansing. The Oromia Parliament(Caffee Oromiyaa) and OPDO have a moral obligation to dissolve their institutions and stand beside their people to resist the TPLF regime’s aggression.

The HRLHA believes that the gross human rights violations committed by the TPLF government, in cooperation with OPDO in the past two and half decades against Oromo Nation, have been pre-planned every time they have happened. TPLF regime security agents imprisoned, killed, tortured, kidnapped, disappeared, and evicted from their ancestral lands thousands of Oromo nationals, simply because of their ethnic backgrounds and to acquire their resources. The TPLF inhuman actions against Oromo civilians are clearly genocidal, a crime against humanity and an ethnic cleansing, which breach domestic and international laws, and all international treaties the government of Ethiopia signed and ratified.

The Human Rights League of the Horn of Africa (HRLHA) expresses its deep concern over the safety and well-being of these Oromo nationals who have been arrested without any court warrant and are being held in different police stations, military camps, “Maekelawi” compound, the main federal police investigation center, in Central Addis Ababa and in different unknown places.

Therefore, HRLHA calls upon governments of the West, all local, regional and international human rights agencies to join hands and demand an immediate halt to these extra-judicial actions, terrorizing civilians and the immediate unconditional release of the detainees.

The HRLHA also calls on all human- rights defender non-governmental, civic organizations, its members, supporters and sympathizers to stand beside the HRLHA and provide moral, professional and financial help to bring the dictatorial TPLF government and officials to international justice.

The HRLHA is a non-political organization that attempts to challenge abuses of human rights of the people of various nations and nationalities in the Horn of Africa. It works to defend fundamental human rights, including freedoms of thought, expression, movement and association. It also works to raise the awareness of individuals about their own basic human rights and those of others. It encourages respect for laws and due process. It promotes the growth and development of free and vigorous civil societies.

—–
Copied to:

– UNESCO Headquarters
– UNESCO – Africa Department
– UNESCO – Africa Regional Office
– Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights
– Office of the UNHCR
– African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR)
– Council of Europe
– U.S. Department of State – Ethiopia Desk

Human Rights Watch says the bloody crackdown on Oromo protesters must stop. Ajjeechaa Barattoota Oromoo irratti raawwatame Human Rights Watch balaaleeffate. December 7, 2015

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Dispatches: Yet Again, a Bloody Crackdown on Protesters in Ethiopia

DECEMBER 5, 2015  Dispatches

 Felix HorneResearcher, Horn of Africa

(Human Rights Watch (HRW, 5 December 2015): Student protests are spreading throughout Ethiopia’s Oromia region, as people demonstrate against the possibility that Oromo farmers and residents living near the capital, Addis Ababa, could be evicted from their lands without appropriate – or possibly any – compensation. Social media is filled with images of bloodied protesters; there are credible reports of injuries and arrests in a number of towns; and local police have publicly acknowledged that three students have died so far.

Ethiopian migrants, all members of the Oromo community of Ethiopia living in Malta, protest against the Ethiopian regime outside the office of Malta's Prime Minister in Valletta June 16, 2014.

The current protests echo the bloody events of April and May 2014, when federal forces fired into groups of largely peaceful Oromo protesters, killing dozens. At least hundreds more students were arrested, and many remain behind bars. Both then and today, the demonstrators are ostensibly protesting the expansion of Addis Ababa’s municipal boundary into the surrounding Oromia region, which protesters fear will displace Oromo farmers from their land. But these protests are about much more: Many Oromos have felt marginalized and discriminated against by successive Ethiopian governments and have often felt unable to voice their concerns over government policies.

Of the student protesters detained in 2014, some have been released. Those I spoke with told me about the torture they endured as part of interrogations. But countless others remain in detention. Some have been charged under Ethiopia’s draconian counterterrorism law for their role in the protests; others languish without charge in unknown detention centers and military camps throughout Oromia. This week, five students were convicted of terrorism-related offenses for their role in the protests.

There has been no government investigation into the use of live ammunition and excessive force by security personnel last year.

Ethiopia’s tight restrictions on civil society and media make it difficult to corroborate the current, mounting allegations and the exact details of the ongoing protests emerging from towns like Haramaya, Jarso, Walliso, and Robe. The government may think this strategy of silencing bad news is succeeding. But while the fear of threats and harassment means it is often months before victims and witnesses come forward to reveal what happened in their communities, they eventually do, and the truth will emerge.

The government should ensure that the use of excessive force by its security personnel stops immediately. It should then support an independent and impartial inquiry into the conduct of security forces in the current protests – and last year’s as well. Those responsible for serious abuses should be fairly prosecuted. This would be the best way for the Ethiopian government to show its concern about the deaths and injuries inflicted on the students, that it does not condone the use of live ammunition against peaceful protesters, and that those who break the law are appropriately punished.
https://www.hrw.org/news/2015/12/05/dispatches-yet-again-bloody-crackdown-protesters-ethiopia

Related:-

http://www.tesfanews.net/bloody-crackdown-on-oromo-protesters/

 

ODUU

Ajjeechaa Barattoota Oromoo irratti raawwatame Human Rights Watch balaaleeffate.

OMN:Oduu Mudde 06,2015 Hiriira mormii barattoonni Oromoo karaa nagaatiin bahanirratti, mootummaan Itoophiyaayeroo lammeessoof akka fala hiriira bittineessuutti tarkaanfii dhiiga dhangalaasuu barattoota Oromoorratti fudhachuusaa, dhaabbanni mirgoota Ilmaan namaatiif falmu ‘Human Right Watch’ ‘n ibsa baaseen himeera.

Dhabbanni mirgoota ilmaan namaatiif falmu “Human Right Watch” tarkaanfii ajjeechaa mootummaan Itoophiyaa barattootaafi uummata Oromoorratti fudhachaa jiru balaaleffachuudhaan, Hiriira mormii barattoonni Oromoo karaa nagaatiin bahanirratti

mootummaan Itoophiyaa yeroo lammeessoof akka fala hiriira bittineessuutti tarkaanfii dhiiga

dhangalaasuu barattoota Oromoorratti fudhachuusaa ibsa baaseen balaaleffateera.

lafa qonnaan bultoota Oromoo naannoo Finfinnee jiran beenyaa gayaa maleefi beenyaa malee

qonnaan bultoota irraa fudhatamaa jiraachuusaa ilaalchise, naannoo Oromiyaa iddoo gara

garaa keessatti barattoonni baldhinaa hiriira mormii akka taasisaa jiran ibsi ‘human right watch’

kun mirkaneesseera. Ibsi ‘human right watch’ kun itti dabaluun ‘website’ yookiin toora

interneetii isaarratti akka baasetti, barattoota Oromoo karaa nagaatiin hiriira mormii

bahanirratti, polisoonni Itoophiyaa tarkaanfii gara jabeessa irratti raawwateen, miidiyaaleen

hawaasaa ‘online’ akka ‘face book’ faa suuraalee barattoota mada’anii dhiigaa jiraniifi du’an

naanneessaa jira. Magaalota hedduu keessatti barattoonniifi namoonni hedduun akka

hidhamaaniifi ajjeefaman gabaasa qabatamaan gabaafameera. Gama mootummaatiin garuu,

ajjeecha barattoota sadiinii qofa, qondaalli poolisi naannoo Oromiyaa tokko amanuu isaa ibsi

‘human right watch’ kun addeesseera.

Ibsi Human riht watch kun itti dabaluun akka himetti, bara engedda, 2014 polisoonni federaalaa

Itoophiyaa uummata Oromoo karaa nagaatiin hiriira bahe irratti dhukaasa qawwee itti

roobsuudhaan namoota heddu ajjeesuun, dhibboota ol qabanii hidhuu isaanii ibseera.

Mootummaan Itoophiyaa waanuma duraan bare, yeroo ammaa kanalle barattoota Oromoo

irratti raawwata akka jiru ibsi human right watch kun ibsee, kaayoon hiriira mormii barattoota

Oromoo, babal’insi magaalaa Finfinnee lafa qonnaan bultootaa irraa fudhachuun namoota

hedduu qe’ee isaanirraa buqqisee rakkinyaaf akka saaxilu sodaa qaban ibachuuf akka ta’e,

human right watch ‘n gabaaseera. Hacuuccaafi miidhaan mootummaa Itoophiyaatiin akka

Oromoorra gahaa jiru Oromoonni hedduun baranii mootummaa Itoophiyaa mormaa akka jiran

‘human right watch’ addeesseera.

Barattota bara dhengeddaa mormii master pilaanii Finfinne kanaan walqabatee qabamanii

hidhaman gariin isaanii erga dhaaninsi hamaan ‘torture’ jedhamuufi qorannaa guddaa irratti

gaggeeffameen booda akka gadi dhiifamaniifi lakkoosfaan kan hanga hin beekamne ammalle

mana hidhaa keessatti ugguramanii akka jiran gabaasni ‘human right watch’ kun mul’iseera.

Akka gabaasa kanaatti, Oromoonni bara endendaa maaster pilaanii Finfinnee mormanii

hidhaman gariin isaanii labsii farra shorkeessummaatiin himannaan itti banamuun murteen yoo

itti murteefamu, gariin isaanii himannaan osoo irratti hin banamanin manuma hidhaa kaampii

waraanaa hin beekkamne hedduu keessatti ukkaamfanii dararaan sukkumamaa akka jiran

himeera. Torbaan kanalle barattoota shan hirira irratti hirmaatan mootummaan

shorkeessummaan wal-qabsiisee yakkaa akka jiru gabaasni Human Right watch kun

mudhiseera.

Gocha Ajjeechaafi miidhaa magaalalee Oromiyaa kanneen akka Haramayaa, Jaarsoo, Walisoofi

Roobe keessatti taasifamaa jiru irratti, miidiyaaleen Itoophiyaa akka nama ijaafi gurra hin

qabneetti caldheessaan bira dabruu isaanii, mala ittiin hammeenya dhoksan yoo te’eeyyuu,

yeroodhaaf waan ukkaamsan fakkaata malee dhugaan dhokattee akka hin hafneefi gaafa tokko

goobantee akka mul’attu, akkasuma namoonni gocha akkanaa raawwatanille murtii

madaalawaa argachuun isaanii akka hin oolle gabaasni Human Rights Watch kun himeera.

Daani’eel Bariisootiin.

Ethiopia: The Italian spyware firm Hacking Team took no effective action to investigate or stop reported abuses of its technology by the Ethiopian government August 19, 2015

Posted by OromianEconomist in Internet Freedom, The Ethiopian government’s systematic repression of independent media, The Tyranny of TPLF Ethiopia.
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???????????Hacking team hackedHacking team hacked1

Ethiopia: Hacking Team Lax on Evidence of Abuse

Leaked Documents Show Need to Regulate Surveillance Sales

hrw(New York, August 13, 2015) – The Italian spyware firm Hacking Team took no effective action to investigate or stop reported abuses of its technology by the Ethiopian government against dissidents, Human Rights Watch said. A comprehensive review of internal company emails leaked in July 2015 reveals that the company continued to train Ethiopian intelligence agents to hack into computers and negotiated additional contracts despite multiple reports that its services were being used to repress government critics and other independent voices.

The Italian government should investigate Hacking Team practices in Ethiopia and elsewhere with a view toward restricting sales of surveillance technology likely to facilitate human rights abuses, Human Rights Watch said.

“The Hacking Team emails show that the company’s training and technology in Ethiopia directly contributed to human rights violations,” said Cynthia Wong, senior Internetresearcher at Human Rights Watch. “Despite multiple red flags, Hacking Team showed a striking lack of concern about how its business could damage dissenting and independent voices.”

On July 5, 400 gigabytes (GB) of Hacking Team’s internal emails, documents, and source code that had been hacked were leaked online. The leaked emails confirm that the company had sold surveillance systems, training, and support and maintenance services to the Ethiopian Information Network Security Agency (INSA) as early as 2011, with contracts worth US$1 million in 2012. On November 5, 2012 Hacking Team congratulated INSA on infecting its first target.

Leaked Hacking Team emails showed that it reviewed independent reports published in 2014 and 2015 that presented findings that the government was targeting Ethiopian Satellite Television (ESAT) employees based in the United States using Hacking Team technology. Yet the company’s internal emails show only a superficial effort to investigate these findings and end the abuse.

Hacking Team states it sells exclusively to governments. Human Rights Watch first contacted Hacking Team in February 2014 after the Toronto-based research center Citizen Lab reported that the Ethiopian government had attempted to use Hacking Team’s spyware, Remote Control System, to hack into the computers of ESAT employees. ESAT is an independent, diaspora-run television and radio station. On December 20, 2013, a third party made three separate attempts to target two ESAT employees who live outside of Ethiopia. In each attempt, ESAT employees received a file through Skype.

The ESAT employees did not open the files, which were presented as and appeared to be a Word document or PDF file. However, if the employees had opened them, the files would have covertly installed a program that would have given the Ethiopian government access to files, emails, passwords, and Skype calls made on the infected computer. Testing by researchers at Citizen Lab found that the program appeared to be spyware that matched previously established characteristics of Hacking Team’s Remote Control System.
In response to a Human Rights Watch inquiry about this incident, the company stated that under its “Customer Policy,” “when questions about the proper use of our tools are raised either internally or come to our attention from outside the company, we investigate.” If a government agency is found to have misused its software, the company states, it will suspend support for the agency’s system, leaving it “vulnerable to detection and therefor useless”. However, until the firm’s recent data breach, the company has been unwilling to disclose any information on its clients or whether it opened an investigation into how the Ethiopian government has been using its technology under its customer policy.
A second report published in March 2015 by Citizen Lab further corroborated evidence that the Ethiopian security agency continued to use Hacking Team’s system to target ESAT journalists. It also showed that the company provided at least one software update to the agency in between the attacks, despite clear indications of abuse of the software. This raised considerable questions about whether the company took the action set out in its customer policy on earlier reports.
Although Hacking Team point out that the leaked information is partial, arguing that it does not include a record of phone calls or discussions held during internal meetings at the company, the company’s leaked internal emails do not show that the company conducted a serious investigation in response to allegations that the security agency had misused the system in 2014. As Hacking Team staff debated over email about how to respond to media reports of the Ethiopian government’s hacking activities, they were also discussing the security agency’s requests to upgrade its system and purchase additional services.
In March 2015, in response to reports from Human Rights Watch and Citizen Lab, Hacking Team asked Ethiopian officials for a written response to allegations that it was conducting abusive surveillance. The government responded that its targets are members of Ginbot 7, a banned Ethiopian opposition organization that the government considers to be a terrorist organization. The emails show no further inquiry by Hacking Team to the government’s response.
The Ethiopian government has invoked national security to clamp down on core freedoms and human rights. Human Rights Watch documented in a March 2014 report that the Ethiopian government uses its surveillance capacities to unlawfully monitor the activities of perceived political opponents inside the country and among the diaspora. Individuals with perceived or tenuous connections to even registered opposition groups are arbitrarily arrested and interrogated based on their phone calls. Recorded phone calls with family members and friends – particularly those with foreign phone numbers – are often played during abusive interrogations in which people who have been arbitrarily detained are accused of belonging to banned organizations.

The Hacking Team emails show that the company’s training and technology in Ethiopia directly contributed to human rights violations. Despite multiple red flags, Hacking Team showed a striking lack of concern about how its business could damage dissenting and independent voices.

Cynthia Wong

Senior Internet Researcher

Human Rights Watch and others have documented that the country’s anti-terrorism law has been used to target journalistsand others critical of government policies. Dozens of journalists, bloggers, and media publishers have been criminally charged and at least 60 journalists have fled the country since 2010. The clampdown on dissent culminated in the ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) coalition taking 100 percent of parliamentary seats in the May federal election.

Human Rights Watch wrote to Hacking Team in July to request comment on these findings. The company stated that it “suspended the relationship [with Ethiopia] last year and terminated all relations with Ethiopia earlier this year.” The company also stated that since its stolen information is publicly available, “the record demonstrates that the company followed all laws and regulations as well as its own customer policy.”
The firm specified that it investigated allegations of abuse in 2014 raised by Citizen Lab by “interrogating the client,” but the facts were “inconclusive.” The firm however noted that “there were several within the company who argued that irrespective of the reasons for this particular surveillance attempt, the Ethiopian investigators were inept, and the relationship with the client should be suspended for that reason alone,” and Hacking Team suspended support to the Ethiopian security agency in the fall of 2014. According to statements from Hacking Team to theWashington Post, Hacking Team suspended support, but the government “would still have had some ability to collect data from existing surveillance.”
In internal discussions revealed by the leaked emails, Hacking Team staff appeared toaccept the government’s justification that the surveillance was “lawful.” Hacking Team briefly suspended service to Ethiopia in March 2015, though seemingly due to concerns that the government’s “incompetent” and “reckless and clumsy” use of the company’s system would expose Hacking Team’s technology to detection, rather than concerns over possiblehuman rights abuses.Hacking Team’s surveillance tools are designed to be undetectable by commercial anti-virus programs and other analysis. According to internal emails, Hacking Team believedthat the Ethiopian government’s flawed use of the tool put its covert nature in jeopardy, along withthe confidentiality of the firm’s other customers.In a leaked email, one staff member also expressed concern that if the company continued the relationship with the Ethiopian security agency, it would have “demonstrated that [Hacking Team doesn’t] take seriously [its] own policies” regarding customer misuse of its technology to violate rights. The leaked emails reflect that the government continued to have access to Hacking Team’s tools after March 2015 and the company issued a temporary license to Ethiopia while they began negotiations in April on a new contract worth at least $700,000. At the time Hacking Team was hacked in July, the Ethiopian security agency had allowed its previous license to expire and the agency and the firm had not yet finalized a new contract.

Hacking Team wrote to Human Rights Watch that its “software is operated by the client, not by Hacking Team, and the subjects of surveillance, the information gathered and the reasons for the surveillance” are not available to Hacking Team. Yet the leaked emails suggest that Hacking Team had multiple opportunities to assess whether the government’s surveillance activities violated human rights and take action to stop these abuses. As part of the company’s support and training services, it repeatedly asked Ethiopian officials for information about intended surveillance targets so that the company could better assist the government in carrying out a successful attack, including through more sophisticated “social engineering” techniques to gain access to a target’s computer.

Social engineering often involves sending highly personalized emails from seemingly trusted sources to entice surveillance targets to open documents infected with spyware, which requires knowledge of the target’s contacts and interests. The released emails show no indication that the company conducted any human rights due diligence based on this kind of information, which may have raised red flags about possible abuses. The new 2015 contract that the company was negotiating with Ethiopia at the time of the data breach included “many months of training combined to [sic] our continuous on-site presence — in order to assist them, teach them, and supervise their investigative activities” according toleaked emails.

Previous reporting by Citizen Lab and others described how the Ethiopian government had used tools provided by FinFisher, a UK and Germany based competitor to Hacking Team, to target or monitor computers owned by other individuals in the Ethiopian diaspora in the US, UK, and Norway. In February 2014, the Electronic Frontier Foundation sued the Ethiopian government on behalf of one of the victims for violating US privacy laws.

Italy and other governments should ensure that all sales of Hacking Team systems and similarly controlled technologies are reviewed on a case-by-case basis, Human Rights Watch said. At a minimum, controls should require an inquiry into the human rights climate of the destination country, the end user and likely end use, technical specifications of the technology, and marketing materials employed by the companies to sell to government agencies.

“The Hacking Team leaks show this industry cannot be depended upon to regulate itself,” Wong said. “Italy and other governments should not turn a blind eye to these revelations, but should immediately investigate the practices of international spyware companies and impose real oversight and control over the exports of surveillance technologies.”

Background

The sale of surveillance technologies is largely unregulated at the national and international level. In December 2013, countries participating in the Wassenaar Arrangement on Export Controls for Conventional Arms and Dual-Use Goods and Technologies added “intrusion software” to its multilateral export control list. As a result, the European Union and 41 member countries to the Wassenaar Arrangement have begun to introduce regulations to control the sale of systems like those sold by Hacking Team. The EU regulations, which apply to Italy, went into force in December 2014.

On February 25, Hacking Team released a statement saying it was “complying fully” with the Wassenaar’s intrusion software controls. The company stated that “under the procedures agreed to by Hacking Team and the Italian Ministry of Economic Development, HT will request from the Italian Government export authorization for its technologies.”

The company’s leaked emails show the company’s lobbying efforts to ensure that it would not be required to seek specific authorization to export its technologies for all countries, undermining the Italian government’s ability to exercise oversight over its sales. In October 2014, the Italian Ministry of Economic Development briefly halted Hacking Team’s exports and proposed a broad control on the firm’s sales that would require a case-by-case review to approve each export, citing “possible uses concerning internal repression and violations of human rights.”

Leaked emails showed that company executives lobbied top Italian officials and government contacts to intervene. As a result, the Economic Development Ministry rescinded the broad control in November 2014, and instead granted a one-time “global license” for exports to countries that were part of the Wassenaar Arrangement in April 2015. It is unclear whether the Italian government has required Hacking Team to seek specific authorization for services, updates, and support the firm continues to provide under contracts signed before April.

Properly implemented export controls can be a valuable tool to help curb the unregulated spread of these systems and promote responsible business and human rights norms. Controls also act as an essential accountability and transparency mechanism. Greater transparency can assist governments and nongovernmental organizations in monitoring the human rights impact of their businesses, improving policies to address abuses, and enhancing remedies where violations occur.

 

The World Bank should fully address serious human rights issues raised by the bank’s internal investigation into a project in #Ethiopia, Human Rights Watch said in a letter to the bank’s vice president for #Africa February 24, 2015

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World Banka: Address Ethiopia Findings
Response to Inquiry Dismissive of Abuses
The new village of Bildak in Ethiopia's Gambella region, which the semi-nomadic Nuer who were forcibly transferred there quickly abandoned in May 2011 because there was no water source for their cattle.
The new village of Bildak in Ethiopia’s Gambella region, which the semi-nomadic Nuer who were forcibly transferred there quickly abandoned in May 2011 because there was no water source for their cattle. © 2011 Human Rights Watch
The Inspection Panel’s report shows that the World Bank has largely ignored human rights risks evident in its projects in Ethiopia. The bank has the opportunity and responsibility to adjust course on its Ethiopia programming and provide redress to those who were harmed. But management’s Action Plan achieves neither of these goals. – Jessica Evans, senior international financial institutions researcher

( FEBRUARY 23, 2015, Washington, DC) – The World Bank should fully address serious human rights issues raised by the bank’s internal investigation into a project in Ethiopia, Human Rights Watch said in a letter to the bank’s vice president for Africa. The bank’s response to the investigation findings attempts to distance the bank from the many problems confirmed by the investigation and should be revised. The World Bank board of directors is to consider the investigation report and management’s response, which includes an Action Plan, on February 26, 2015.

The Inspection Panel, the World Bank’s independent accountability mechanism, found that the bank violated its own policies in Ethiopia. The investigation was prompted by a formal complaint brought by refugees from Ethiopia’s Gambella region concerning the Promoting Basic Services (PBS) projects funded by the World Bank, the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DFID), the African Development Bank, and several other donors.

“The Inspection Panel’s report shows that the World Bank has largely ignored human rights risks evident in its projects in Ethiopia,” said Jessica Evans, senior international financial institutions researcher at Human Rights Watch. “The bank has the opportunity and responsibility to adjust course on its Ethiopia programming and provide redress to those who were harmed. But management’s Action Plan achieves neither of these goals.”

The report, leaked to the media in January, determinedthat “there is an operational link” between the World Bank projects in Ethiopia and a government relocation program known as “villagization.” It concluded that the bank had violated its policy that is intended to protect indigenous peoples’ rights. It also found that the bank “did not carry out the required full risk analysis, nor were its mitigation measures adequate to manage the concurrent rollout of the villagisation programme.” These findings should prompt the World Bank and other donors to take all necessary measures to prevent and address links between its programs and abusive government initiatives, Human Rights Watch said.

Rather than taking on these important findings and applying lessons learned, World Bank management has drafted an Action Plan that merely reinforces its problematic current course, Human Rights Watch said. The Action Plan emphasizes the role of programs designed to mobilize communities to engage in local government’s decisions without addressing the significant risks people take in speaking critically.

The Inspection Panel also found that the bank did not take the necessary steps to mitigate the risk presented by Ethiopia’s 2009 law on civil society organizations. The law prohibits human rights organizations in Ethiopia from receiving more than 10 percent of their funding from foreign sources. As a result of the law, most independent Ethiopian civil society organizations working on human rights issues have had to discontinue their work.

The plan also pledges to enhance the capacity of local government staff to comply with the bank’s policies and to provide complaint resolution mechanisms without addressing the role of the local government in human rights abuses. This continues an approach of seeing the officials implicated in human rights abuses as a source of potential resolution, Human Rights Watch said. Management has also concluded, contrary to the Inspection Panel, that the World Bank is adequately complying with the bank’s policy to protect the rights of indigenous peoples.

Human Rights Watch research into the first year of the villagization program in the western Gambella region found that people were forced to move into the government’s new villages. Human Rights Watch found that the relocation was accompanied by serious abuses, including intimidation, assaults, and arbitrary arrests by security officials, and contributed to the loss of livelihoods for the people forced to move. While the Ethiopian government has officially finished its villagization program in Gambella, it is forcibly evicting communities in other regions, including indigenous people, ostensibly for development projects such as large-scale agriculture projects.

Donors to the Ethiopia Promoting Basic Services Program, including the World Bank and the UK, have repeatedly denied any link between their programs and problematic government programs like villagization.

Human Rights Watch has long raised concerns over inadequate monitoring and the risks of misuse of development assistance in Ethiopia. In 2010 Human Rights Watch documented the government’s use of donor-supported resources and aid to consolidate the power of the ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF). Government officials discriminated on the basis of real and perceived political opinion in distributing resources, including access to donor-supported programs, salaries, and training opportunities. Donors have never systematically investigated these risks to their programming, much less addressed them.

The Inspection Panel report is the first donor mechanism that has investigated the donor’s approach to risk assessment in Ethiopia. Although the Inspection Panel adopted a narrow view of its mandate and decided explicitly to exclude human rights violations, its findings underscore the need for donors to considerably enhance and broaden their risk assessment processes in Ethiopia. These processes are crucial for ensuring that their programs advance the social and economic rights of the people they are intended to benefit, without violating their human rights. Management’s response misrepresents the panel’s view of its mandate, erroneously concurring “with the panel’s conclusion that the harm alleged in the Request cannot be attributed to the Project” – the Inspection Panel report makes no such sweeping conclusion.

“The bank directors should send management’s response and Action Plan back and insist on a plan that addresses the Inspection Panel’s findings and the concerns of the people who sought the inquiry,” Evans said. “A meaningful Action Plan should address the program in question, bank-lending in Ethiopia more broadly, and how to apply lessons from these mistakes to all bank programing in high-risk, repressive environments around the world.”

The Action Plan should include provisions for high-level dialogue between the bank and the Ethiopian government to address key human rights issues that are obstacles to effective development, Human Rights Watch said. These issues include forced evictions and development-related displacement, restrictions on civil society, including attacks on independent groups and journalists, discriminatory practices, and violations ofindigenous peoples’ rights.

The plan should include provisions for identifying and mitigating all human rights risks and adverse impacts at the project level, and for independent monitoring to make sure these concerns are fully addressed. The plan should also include provisions for people affected by projects to be involved in projects from their conception and remedies for people negatively affected by bank projects.

Given the climate of fear and repression in Ethiopia, Gambella residents who brought the complaint to the bank and have taken refuge in South Sudan and Kenya are unlikely to feel safe returning home. In light of this, the Action Plan should address their most urgent needs abroad, including education and livelihood opportunities, Human Rights Watch said.

The Inspection Panel’s findings also have wider implications for donor programming in Ethiopia. Donors’ current appraisal methods do not consider human rights and other risks from their programs. The panel highlighted particular problems with budget support or block grants that cannot be tracked at the local level.

“The Inspection Panel report illustrates the perils of unaccountable budget support in Ethiopia,” Evans said. “Donors should implement programs that ensure that Ethiopia’s neediest participate in and have access to the benefits of donor aid.”

http://www.hrw.org/news/2015/02/23/world-bank-address-ethiopia-findings

 

FEBRUARY 23, 2015

Dear Vice President Diop,

As you are aware, Human Rights Watch has researched and documented human rights violations that the government of Ethiopia has committed in the course of its “villagization” program in both Gambella and in the Lower Omo valley. We have also reported on the links between villagization and the various iterations of the World Bank’s Promoting/ Protection of Basic Services projects. With this in mind, I write to you as your staff are working to prepare an action plan responding to the Inspection Panel’s findings of non-compliance in its Ethiopia investigation.

We urge you to ensure that World Bank management responds to the Inspection Panel findings comprehensively in its action plan. Human Rights Watch has been profoundly disappointed by the lack of constructive engagement of World Bank management on the problems of villagization in Ethiopia and its unwillingness to work to address a range of human rights risks in its programming. The concerns raised in the Investigation Panel’s report are an opportunity to adjust management’s course on its Ethiopia programming and address these issues.

We believe the Action Plan should include a commitment to:

1.    Enhance Management’s High Level Dialogue with the Ethiopian Government

Whenever World Bank staff, particularly you or President Kim, meet with the Ethiopian government, we urge you to raise the continuing negative impact that several Ethiopian government policies and practices are having on development efforts.

First, forced evictions and development-related displacement continues to have serious negative effects on communities in various parts of the country, well beyond Gambella. While the government has officially finished its villagization program, it continues to forcibly evict people, including indigenous peoples, from their land ostensibly for development projects, including large-scale agriculture, including for sugar plantation development in the Lower Omo Valley. Bank staff should work with other donors to highlight problems with ongoing practices, as well as pointing to key standards (which should include the UN Basic Principles and Guidelines on Development-based Evictions and Displacement, and standards and jurisprudence of the African regional human rights institutions). While we recognize bank management has discussed some concerns about villagization before and supported the development of standards for involuntary resettlement, relying on the Bank’s safeguards, dialogue needs to recognize the problems with the existing practices and advise on how to address them.

Second, it is crucial that the Bank asserts the importance of civic participation and social accountability for effective development. This means consistently raising concerns, and urging reforms of the Ethiopian government’s Charities and Societies Proclamation and Anti-Terrorism Proclamation, which have had such a devastating impact on the ability of Ethiopians to exercise their rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly. It is also crucial that the Bank and other donors press the Ethiopian government to reverse the practices of arbitrary arrest and detention, and politically motivated prosecutions of independent journalists, activists, and opposition party members including media reporting on problematic “development” initiatives. Independent nongovernmental organizations and media are essential for accountability, and these repressive policies undermine both civic participation and social accountability.

Third, you should raise concerns over discriminatory practices in the country, both on the basis of ethnic background and political opinion. President Kim has spoken passionately about the scourge of discrimination. This should translate into a dialogue with the government not only about how discrimination is wrong, but how it undermines development. Human Rights Watch and others have documented discriminatory practices against individuals not supporting the ruling party in the distribution of the benefits of development, including access to agricultural inputs like seeds and fertilizers, micro-credit loans and job opportunities. In this context, bank management should highlight these ongoing discriminatory practices, including against those who do not support the ruling party and against indigenous groups in areas where villagization occurred including Gambella and the Lower Omo valley.

Finally, it is essential that Ethiopia respect and protect the rights of indigenous peoples. You may want to consider the work of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, which has on several occasions discussed indigenous rights within the African context. The African Commission’s Working Group on Indigenous Populations/ Communities has suggested that, in determining whether groups fall within the definition of indigenous peoples, the:

focus should be on … self-definition as indigenous and distinctly different from other groups within a state; on a special attachment to and use of their traditional land whereby their ancestral land and territory has a fundamental importance for their collective physical and cultural survival as peoples; on an experience of subjugation, marginalization, dispossession, exclusion or discrimination because these people have different cultures, ways of life or modes of production than the national hegemonic and dominant model.

The Commission has helpfully addressed common misconceptions regarding indigenous peoples in Africa, paraphrased in attachment 1.

2.    Address Risks at the Project Level

The report of the Inspection Panel shows that the World Bank needs to have systems in place to analyze and avoid or mitigate the above and other human rights risks linked to its projects in Ethiopia. The Bank should acknowledge that the repressive environment in Ethiopia requires an entirely different approach to participation and social accountability. It should work with other donors to develop creative methods for participation that avoid risks of reprisals against those who express dissent and to encourage fearful individuals to use mechanisms and institutions that ensure participation and accountability, free of intimidation and fear. In recognition of the difficulties of ensuring participation and effective, secure avenues for accountability, the Bank should routinely identify security risks for project-affected persons including the risk of reprisal if individuals criticize a project or oppose resettlement.

Considering the high-risk environment, World Bank management should explicitly report to the board on how it has analyzed and addressed all risks of social and human rights impacts in each project in Ethiopia at least annually. Such a report should outline how management has addressed security risks, risks of all forms of discrimination, potential obstacles to participation and accountability, and risks related to land rights or forced evictions, as well as any other potential adverse social or human rights impact.

The World Bank should also ensure that it comprehensively complies with its Indigenous Peoples’ policy in all projects in which indigenous peoples stand to be impacted, directly or indirectly. Compliance needs to go beyond consulting with indigenous peoples in the course of undertaking a social impact assessment, and instead involve comprehensive participation of indigenous peoples in all bank-projects that affect them beginning at the project proposal stage and throughout the entire project cycle. The World Bank should only proceed with projects that affect indigenous peoples with their free, prior, and informed consent as provided by international law.

Furthermore, the bank should require independent third party monitoring and independent grievance redress mechanisms for all of its projects in Ethiopia. Until the environment for independent organizations, including nongovernmental organizations and the media, improves substantially, there is little opportunity for individuals to report problems with World Bank projects. Many of the existing grievance redress mechanisms lack independence from the government or, equally important, are perceived to lack independence.

While the bank has championed its “social accountability mechanisms” in Ethiopia, we question the effectiveness of these mechanisms within the current repressive environment. Statements from the requesters indicate that they would never utilize such mechanisms because of government involvement, and the Bank should heed these concerns. Unfortunately, to date, the bank does not appear to have addressed the question of how these mechanisms can be effective within the current repressive environment. The World Bank needs to find alternative, effective mechanisms to supervise its projects and permit people to safely complain about grievances.

Finally, in accordance with the World Bank’s commitment to and expertise regarding fiscal transparency and accountability, management should only support projects for which funds can be tracked. Tracking the funding is necessary for tracking the full impacts of a World Bank-financed project. It is also particularly relevant considering the bank’s decision not to provide direct budget support to Ethiopia because of the high-risk environment. The Inspection Panel pointed to the challenge of tracking PBS’ financing, in particular, because the government did not share key financial information. This is immensely problematic and should be promptly remedied.

3.    Provide the Requesters with a Remedy

The requesters have proposed measures to remedy the problems they highlighted in their complaint and a strong Action Plan is needed to address these concerns, which Human Rights Watch supports. I attach their letter for ease of reference.

The Action Plan should provide effective development and much-needed basic services to the people of Gambella, free of the requirement to be supportive of the ruling party. As indigenous people, the requesters should be partners in the World Bank’s development initiatives, which includes the right to be meaningfully consulted and for development projects to only go forward with their consent, free of any intimidation.

Given the climate of fear and repression that exists in Ethiopia, it is unlikely that many requesters will feel safe to return home to Gambella. In light of this, the Action Plan should address some of the most urgent needs of the requesters in the refugee communities including the lack of education and livelihood opportunities.

Finally, we urge the World Bank management to present the final Action Plan to the requesters in person in Kenya and South Sudan, comprehensively explaining it and responding to the requestors’ letter.

Thank you for considering our recommendations. I would be most happy to discuss them with you or your staff further. I look forward to your response.

Sincerely,

Jessica Evans

Senior Advocate on International Financial Institutions

Business and Human Rights Division

Human Rights Watch

Annex 1

The African Commission’s Working Group on Indigenous Populations / Communities has debunked several misconceptions regarding indigenous peoples in Africa:

Misconception 1: To protect the rights of indigenous peoples gives special rights to some ethnic groups over and above the rights of all other groups.

Certain groups face discrimination because of their particular culture, mode of production, and marginalized position within the state. The protection of their rights is a legitimate call to alleviate this particular form of discrimination. It is not about special rights.

Misconception 2: Indigenous is not applicable in Africa as “all Africans are indigenous.”

There is no question that Africans are indigenous to Africa in the sense that they were there before the European colonialists arrived and that they were subject to subordination during colonialism. When some particular marginalized groups use the term “indigenous” to describe themselves, they use the modern analytical form (which does not merely focus on aboriginality) in an attempt to draw attention to and alleviate the particular form of discrimination they suffer from. They do not use the term in order to deny other Africans their legitimate claim to belong to Africa and identify as such.

Misconception 3: Talking about indigenous rights will lead to tribalism and ethnic conflicts.

Giving recognition to all groups, respecting their differences and allowing them all to flourish does not lead to conflict, it prevents conflict. What creates conflict is when certain dominant groups force a contrived “unity” that only reflects perspectives and interests of powerful groups within a given state, and which seeks to prevent weaker marginal groups from voicing their unique concerns and perspectives. Conflicts do not arise because people demand their rights but because their rights are violated. Protecting the human rights of particularly discriminated groups should not be seen as tribalism and disruption of national unity. On the contrary, it should be welcomed as an interesting and much needed opportunity in the African human rights arena to discuss ways of developing African multicultural democracies based on the respect and contribution of all ethnic groups.

Source: Paraphrased from Report of the African Commission’s Working Group on Indigenous Populations/Communities, Adopted by the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights at its 34th Ordinary Session, November 6-20, 2003.

http://www.hrw.org/node/132912

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