Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Ethiopia holding 250 members of Oromo ethnic group without charge, officials say

The Associated Press
Published: September 4, 2006

ADDIS ABABA:-The Ethiopian government has detained without charge more than 250 members of the Oromo ethnic group, including teachers, high school students and politicians, Oromo officials said Monday.

The Oromo make up a third of Ethiopia's 75 million people, and it have been the center of dissent against the ruling Ethiopian Peoples' Revolutionary Democratic Front.

"The government claims that there are some people in the area conducting illegal activity," Merera Gudina, head of the Oromo National Congress, told The Associated Press.

Officials at Ethiopia's Ministry of Information declined to comment.

Human rights group Amnesty International said Monday it feared the detainees were taken into custody last week "because they are members of the Oromo ethnic group."

In early August, an Ethiopian army officer of Oromo descent, Brig. Gen. Kemal Geltu, defected to traditional enemy Eritrea with more than 100 Ethiopian troops under his command. He said he was unhappy with the Ethiopian government's treatment of the Oromo.

There was no indication that those arrested were members of the Oromo Liberation Front, an insurgent group that has been fighting for greater autonomy in southern Ethiopia.

"These people are not connected to the OLF," Merera said


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