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UNPO: Urgency of Addressing the Plight of Women Belonging to Vulnerable Groups in Ethiopia Highlighted at UNPO EP Conference March 24, 2017

Posted by OromianEconomist in Uncategorized.
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Urgency of Addressing the Plight of Women Belonging to Vulnerable Groups in Ethiopia Highlighted at UNPO EP Conference


After welcoming speakers and participants from across the globe, the conference’s host, MEP Liliana Rodrigues, opened the event by expressing that the responsibility to stop the atrocities in Ethiopia belongs to us all: “We are here to help break the silence.” Dr Shigut Geleta, of the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF), reminded the audience that large donors, such as the European Union and the United States, continue to provide substantial aid to Ethiopia despite the country’s heinous human rights record. Dr Geleta emphasised that this aid has been crucial in maintaining the ruling coalition’s stranglehold on political power in Ethiopia.

Continuing off of this point, Mr Denboba Natie, an executive committee member of the Sidama National Liberation Front, raised the question of how marginalised communities can make their struggle known when internationally sponsored funds are flowing into the authoritarian regime, contributing to their repression. For a moment of reflection, Mr Natie asked the entire conference to stand in silence to honour the pain and sacrifices of these subjugated peoples and of the women and girls who have been victims of gender-based and sexual trauma in Ethiopia. UNPO Secretary General Marino Busdachin made reference to the array of issues affecting these regions, such as land-grabbing, eviction, poverty and extrajudicial killings, ultimately declaring that “enough is enough.”

To open the first panel, a statement by Graham Peebles, freelance writer and director of The Create Trust, was read by moderator and UNPO Programme Officer Julie Duval. Mr Peebles’ statement drew attention to a number of worrying issues in Ethiopia – the lack of independent media sources, the stifling of any political dissent, the routine sexual abuse and rape of imprisoned women – all of which contribute to the precarious condition of human rights for marginalised populations. Ms Ajo Agwa of the Gambella People’s Liberation Movement and the Gambella Women’s Association gave a poignant overview of the ongoing violence in her region, where public schools and medical clinics are looted, children are abducted and civilians are massacred by assailants clad in military uniforms under the guise of enforcing protection along the border with South Sudan.

The testimony of Ms Dinknesh Dheressa, Chairwoman of the International Oromo Women’s Organization, highlighted the extreme level of state violence in Oromiya, where government security forces have repeatedly “used live ammunition to disperse protests.”

Mr Garad Mursal, Director of the African Rights Monitor, stated that “civilians in Ogaden, Oromiya, Benishangul-Gumuz, Gambella and Sidama have been subjected to mass murder, torture and rape” by the Ethiopian government and their allies. Mr Mursal explained that due to the famine and the cholera epidemic in the Ogaden region, entire villages of Somalis are being wiped out and yet the Ethiopian government continues to prioritise economic development over fundamental human rights. Following Mr Mursal’s speech, a clip of Mr Peebles’ short documentary entitled Ogaden: Ethiopia’s Hidden Shame was shown in which Somali women give first-hand accounts of the sexual violence and torture they endured at the hands of Ethiopian security forces.

The second panel focussed more exclusively on women’s rights and sexual violence. Mrs Rodrigues reminded the audience that Ethiopia is hardly a unique case when it comes to sexual abuse and rape being used as a weapon of war. She called for accountability measures to be enacted by the Ethiopian government to guarantee that the perpetrators of these crimes are brought to justice, but also to provide physical and psychological care for victims of sexual trauma. Significantly, Mrs Rodrigues emphasised that there must be liability where foreign aid is concerned, and she urged the European Union to put Ethiopia at the top of its agenda.

MEP Julie Ward (S&D) succinctly but powerfully intoned that “The root cause of violence against women and girls is inequality.” In considering the effects of how widespread sexual violence has contributed to the devastation of marginalised communities in Ethiopia, Ms Ward stressed that as a war tactic, mass rape is constitutive of genocide and ethnic cleansing. She further declared it “absolutely wrong that EU aid money should be in any way complicit in these human rights violations and crimes of sexual violence”.

Oromo medical doctor Dr Baro Keno Deressa reiterated Ms Ward’s statements about rape being used as a tool of war in Ethiopia, where sexual violence is used strategically to terrorise and ultimately destroy marginalised communities. He maintained that “it is a violation of human rights when women are not given the right to plan their own families”. Moreover, women from these regions are deliberately excluded from the women’s empowerment programmes touted by the Ethiopian government as a model of their progress. Both Dr Deressa and Ms Mariam Ali, an activist currently studying at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London, asserted that rape has become institutionalised in Ethiopia.

In closing the second panel, Ms Ali provided a summary of facts about the situation in the Ogaden region, including that the Ethiopian army’s blockade has kept independent journalists and medical officials from entering the region. The population is being starved by a “man-made famine”, and Ms Ali affirms that women are subjected to near-constant rape and torture. Ms Ali ended her speech by addressing these brutal human rights violations with a Somali proverb, “Dhiiga kuma dhaqaaqo?” which translates to “Does your blood not move?”

Mrs Rodrigues and Ms Duval gave the final remarks, addressing both the general human rights situation in Ethiopia and the particular burden born by women from marginalised regions. Mrs Rodrigues underlined once again that action must be taken to see that international funds are solely being used in a fashion that supports human rights and ensures women’s rights. Overall, the conference provided a distinct opportunity for representatives of marginalised groups in the regions of Oromiya, Ogaden, Benishangul-Gumuz, Gambella and Sidama to speak directly to Members of the European Parliament and recount their experiences to a wider audience of human rights activists and civil society actors. A fruitful exchange of views following the official programme brought this important event to a close and allowed representatives from the media, academia, political decision-makers, as well as representatives of civil society and diplomatic missions to engage in a lively discussion.

 

Click here to find the conference declaration and here to find more photos of the event

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Oromia: Petition Intended to Stop the Killings of Oromo Women and Children March 29, 2016

Posted by OromianEconomist in #OromoProtests, Africa, Because I am Oromo, Oromia, Oromo.
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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#OromoLivesMatters!The Economist on #OromoProtests

Petition Intended to Stop the Killings of Oromo Women and Children

Begna Dugassa Ph.D;  Email: begna.dugassa@gmail.com

#OromoProtests‬ (1st March 2016) in Qarsaa town. Oromo nationals Muraadii and Kadir Siraj Ahmed killed by AgaziHanna doja. Oromo child, 1st grade student in Kombolcha, Horroo Guduruu, Oromia. Attacked  by Ethiopian regime fascist  forces on 31st December  2015
We are saddened to the wide spread killings and imprisonments in Oromia. The killings and imprisonments are unjust and we believe that you are also saddened to the actions of the Ethiopian government security forces. The petition is planned to reach international organizations such as the UN and EU as well as countries that are providing financial assistance to Ethiopia i.e.  the U.S.A, UK, Germany, France, Italia, Canada, Australia, Sweden, Norway, Belgium, Holland and others. The message of the petition is: Stop the Ethiopian government from using the international financial aids to kill Oromo women & children.  To make sure your voices are heard we encourage you to sign this petition.
What it takes to sign the petition?
It takes two easy steps. To sign the petition you simply go to the link below and click on the file. When you open the file, on the right corner you will see: SIGN THE PETITION. In the space provided you enter your name, email address and the country where you reside and hit enter. If other family members or friends want to sign the petition you have to wait until the first person is signed out from the link.
The U.S.A., UK, Germany, France, Italia, Canada, Australia and others: Tell the Ethiopian government that you are not financing the killing of Oromo women & children.
Who should sign the petition?
Anyone who disapproves the killing of Oromo women, children and others can sign. For this reason you need to share the information with your friends, family, community, church, mosque and Waqeefaata members.  Make sure to share the link and the information among your coworkers, neighbors and school friends and ask them sign.
How many people need to sign?
We are thinking to collect 10,000 signatures. The bigger is the better.
The reasons for the petition are as follow: 
Dear Global Citizens,
We are writing on behalf of Oromo women and children who are dying and suffering in the hands of the Ethiopian government security forces. The Ethiopian government led by the Tigray Peoples Liberation Front (TPLF), a former guerrilla army, only represents six percent of the Ethiopian population. However, Oromo people who are the single largest ethnic/national group and represent 45 to 50 percent of the people in Ethiopia are denied the right to freely determine their social, economic, political, cultural and environmental affairs. In the absence of Oromo leadership, the TPLF government implemented policies that evicted millions of Oromo farmers from their farms and left millions of women, and children in poverty and famine.
Oromo people are an egalitarian society. Before the incorporation of Oromia into the Ethiopian empire, the Oromo people were ruled by democratically elected leaders known asGada and Siiqee system. Siiqee is an Oromo women’s institution, organized to bring checks and balances in gender relations. Therefore, the Oromo people believe that under consecutive Ethiopian rulers, they have made backward social changes. Moving back from freely electing their leader (governed by democratically elected groups) and flourishing Siiqee institution (fostering gender equity) to languishing under dictatorial regimes that have no progressive social policy or agenda for women’s rights. When the Oromos demand for self-rule, they are demanding to freely develop their institutions i.e. Gadaa and Siiqee and using these institutions in solving their problems.
The consecutive Ethiopian minority rulers denied the Oromo people the right to freely determine their social, economic, political, cultural and environmental rights. Violation of such rights is responsible for the famine, poverty, child and maternal mortality, higher illiteracy, and lack of clean water in Oromia. At present, over 18 million Ethiopians, mainly Oromos, are facing starvation and dependence on food aid. Oromo women and children are dying prematurely from starvation and preventable diseases. Oromo women who witness this are determined to change the political system that is putting them at risk and they are actively participating in peaceful demonstrations.
More potent than the hunger, malnutrition and disease is the brutality of the TPLF government of Ethiopia. Since November 2015 the Ethiopian government security forces have been indiscriminately killing peaceful demonstrators. The Ethiopian government is stifling any news on its own brutality in the killing of peaceful Oromo demonstrators, women and children indiscriminately.
Although, the European Union, USA, Canada and many other humanitarian organizations have expressed concerns and condemned these acts of killing the Ethiopian government has upgraded its attack against the Oromo, taking it to the proportion to genocide. As of today, about 400 Oromos have been killed, including many children and pregnant women. Many thousands have been maimed and over 12, 000 are imprisoned and tortured. Women and children are among the maimed, imprisoned and tortured. In the meantime, the Ethiopian government is still benefiting from the financial and political supports provided to it by Western governments. Their tax payers’ money is used to support the government that kills women, children, elderly people, and peaceful Oromo citizens.
We are writing to ask you join us to stop the Ethiopian government from killing, imprisoning and torturing women, children and other sectors of the Oromo society. We ask you join us in signing this petition to make sure that the tax payers’ money sent to the Ethiopian government is not used to kill children and women. We are asking you to do so and further influence your respective governments on behalf of the defenseless Oromo children, women and elderly.
Sincerely
See for more details
Sirnee was shot dead merely for shielding her child from the shooting Ethiopian soldiers. She was an Oromo mother who died along with her child. Oromo women are taking the brunt of the brutal military repression against peaceful Oromo protestors demanding the respect of their constitutional rights. The Ethiopian totalitarian regime has turned its defense forces against its own citizens.
Soldiers are shooting indiscriminately, killing, maiming, imprisoning and torturing unarmed protestors. Since Oromo protests started in November 2015, over 400 peaceful protestors have been murdered, including many children and pregnant women. Oromia is a bloodbath. Four months into the protests, the brutal bestiality shows no sign of relenting.
Soldiers are breaking into homes and university dormitories, terrorizing and savagely raping women and students. They are gang raping girls as young as 12. Women are particularly targeted for rape to emasculate men and break the spirit of Oromo protestors. But you won’t hear much of this because the brutal regime has effectively stifled all voices of dissent. It is now muzzling journalists to shut down any news of its atrocity that could come out of that country.
We call on all global citizens with a passion for human rights and fundamental freedoms to help us stop this bestiality against Oromo women. Will you join us?