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Human Rights League: Ethiopia- Gross Human Rights Violations: Human rights situations that require the UN Human Rights Council’s attention May 31, 2016

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Odaa OromooHuman rights League of the Horn of Africa

Ethiopia- Gross Human Rights Violations


Submission to:  Human Rights Council – 32nd Session UN,

13 June – 1 July 2016, Geneva, Switzerland

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

May 29, 2016

(HRLHA) – Ever since November of 2015 and still going on are serious human rights violations in Oromia Regional State of Ethiopia. Peaceful protestors against the so-called  ” Addis Ababa Integrated Master Plan”  came to the streets in Oromia in November to express their grievances about the “Addis Ababa Integrated Master plan” and were met with brutal crackdowns. An estimated 500 plus Oromos have been killed by the Ethiopian Government force. The Ethiopian Government deployed its military and applied excessive force against the unarmed civilians to quell the dissent. The Oromo nation protested against  the “Addis Ababa Integrated Master Plan” because:

  • It is a plan which did not consult the stakeholders and aimed to annex 36 small towns in Oromia to the capital city to expand it by 20 fold, thereby evicting  over two million farmers
  • In the past 15 years, over 150,000 Oromo farmers from suburban towns of Addis Ababa have been forcefully evicted from their livelihoods and their land has been sold to investors for a low price, and given to the government authorities for free. Land owners have become beggars on the street.
  • Many farmers in Oromia Regional Zones have been forcefully removed from their ancestral lands and their lands sold cheaply to investors for flower plantations.

The  recent deadly violence against Oromo peaceful demonstrators staged against the so called “Addis Ababa Integrated Master Plan”- violence that has already claimed over 500 lives, including children and senior citizens  along with more than 20,000 –  30,000 imprisoned and more disappeared- has also attracted the attention of many donor countries such as the USA whose Department of State has condemned the excessive military force against the peaceful demonstrators, (see in table 1)

Various organizations, including government agencies ( EU parliament, UN Experts), international, regional and domestic human rights organizations  (HW, AI, HRLHA) and international mass media such as BBC, CNN, France 24 have reported on the  recent violations in Oromia Regional State of Ethiopia, (see in Table 2)

Table 1 – Government Agency’s Report

Reporter Report Description Report Date
The White House Office of the Press Secretary Statement by National Security Council Spokesperson Ned Price on the Arrest of Journalists in Ethiopia December 30, 2015
US Department of State The United States Concerned By Clashes in Oromia, Ethiopia December 15, 2015
EU Parliament European Parliament resolution on the situation in Ethiopia  January 21, 2016
UN Experts UN Experts Urge Ethiopia to halt violent crackdown —  January 21, 2016

Table 2- Human Rights Organizations’ Report

Reporter Organization Report Description Reported Date
HRW  Using Courts to Crush Dissent in Ethiopia May 9, 2016
HRW Deafening Silence from Ethiopia April 12, 2016
HRW Ethiopia’s Invisible Crisis January 22, 2016
Government Backs Down, But Will Protests End in Ethiopia? January 15, 2016
HRW Ethiopia: Lethal Force Against Protesters, Military Deployment, Terrorism Rhetoric Risk Escalating Violence December 18, 2015
HRW Yet Again, a Bloody Crackdown on Protesters in Ethiopia December 5, 2015
AI Ethiopia: Anti-terror rhetoric will escalate brutal crackdown against Oromo protesters December 16, 2015
AI Ethiopia: Ethnic Oromos arrested, tortured and killed by the state in relentless repression of dissent October 16, 2014
HRLHA Ethiopia: Oromia Regional State Under Siege Dececember 15, 2015
HRLHA Ethiopia: Extreme Cruelties Against Oromo Children and Youths Dececember 8, 2015
HRLHA Oromia/Ethiopia: Region-Wide, Heavy-Handed Crackdown on Peaceful Protesters December 5, 2015
BBC Ethiopia says Oromia protests crackdown claims are ‘lies’ February 22, 2016
BBC (BBC vidio) Ethiopian Government Criticized Over Oromo Protests November 2015
BBC BBC World News reports on Oromo Protest against Addis Ababa Master Plan May 2, 2014
CNN Ethiopia crackdown on student protests taints higher education success May 22, 2014
France 24 Video: Anger among Ethiopia’s Oromo ethnic group boils over March 30, 2016


Recalling that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights guarantees the right to life, liberty and security of person, freedom of opinion and expression, freedom of peaceful demonstration and assembly,

Recalling further that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights prohibits torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, arbitrary arrest and detention,

The HRLHA urges  the United Nations Human Rights Council to raise concerns about the serious human rights abuses presently taking place in Oromia.

The HRLHA also calls upon the UN Human Rights Council:

  • To create an international commission of inquiry to investigate the recent serious violations of international customary law and international human rights law by the Ethiopian Government
  • To use its mandate to put pressure on the Ethiopian Government:
  • To immediately bring to justice those military members who cold-bloodedly attacked the peaceful demonstrators
  • To unconditionally free all Oromo prisoners of conscience and  others arbitrarily detained, including those held before for no reason and  during the peaceful protests of April-March 2014 and November – December 2015 against the ” Addis Ababa Integrated Master Plan “
  • To refrain from reprisals against aromos who have taken part in peaceful demonstrations

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

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

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

Protesters in Oromia region, Ethiopia.

Protesters in Oromia region, Ethiopia, December 2015.

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

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

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

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

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