Friday, May 29, 2009



Exploring Oromo Cultural History:

Critical Multi-disciplinary EnquiriesSession 111: Gadla: Past, Present and Future Significance in Oroino History

We are pleased to announce that The London International Oromo Culture and History Workshop is planned to be held in July 4 2009.

The Workshop will be of interest to those interested in understanding their cultural heritage, scholars and students of Oromo studies.Gada is a highly complex system of constitutional governrnent based an indigenous African democratic principles whereby officials are elected every eight years. At its pinnacle Gada was a fully functional complete system of govemance; arguable even superrar, in some aspect, to the modern democratic systems around the globe.

For inistance„ the Gada government has separate legislative (Yaa'ii) and executive (Gumii) Urarsches as as independent judiciary.The Gada system has been the basis of Oromo culture and civilisation which helped the Oromo nation maintain political, economic, social and religious institutions for thousands of years.Unfortunately, the Gada system, as a national institution, has been seriously weakened since the Oromo nation lost its sovereignty around the endml of 19th century. Novetheless, it remains dynamic and in cotinuous existence. In fast,Gada heritage has a great deal af influence an the Oromo identity. collective consciousness, values and tradition and world outlook at all levels.Gada is not only an Oroino cuitural heritage but also a significant World Heritage with huge potential for contribution to the whole of humanity. lt should be part of the school curriculum in Oromia not only as part of history lesson but to broaden the minds of the young Generation.

Further scholarly studies are also required to fully uncover the Gada system itself.This 'Workshop will attempt to take a holistic view of Gada. It will address the role Gada played and is still playing in the life and development of the Oroino society, its contribution to the world's history of democracy and the potential role it can play in the future.

Topics to be covered include:·

  • Ideological foundation of the Gada system·
  • Philosopliical significance of Gada·
  • Gada ritual cycles·
  • The role of Gada in warfare·
  • State and religion under Gada·

Gada political institutionsVENUE: Room U214, City University London,Northampton Square, London EC1V OHBTRAVEL: Bus: 153, 4 &
56;Underground: Angel Station an Northern Line


Amnesty International 2009 Report on Human Rights

Restrictions on humanitarian assistance to the Somali Region (known as the Ogaden) continued. The government engaged in sporadic armed conflict against the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) and both forces perpetrated human rights abuses against civilians. Ethiopian troops fighting insurgents in Somalia in support of the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) committed human rights abuses and were reported to have committed war crimes. Security forces arrested members of the Oromo ethnic group in Addis Ababa and in the Oromo Region towards the end of the year. Independent journalists continued to face harassment and arrest. A number of political prisoners were believed to remain in detention and opposition party leader Birtukan Mideksa, who was pardoned in 2007, was rearrested. A draft law restricting the activities of Ethiopian and international organizations working on human rights was expected to be passed by parliament in 2009. Ethiopia remained one of the world’s poorest countries with some 6.4 million people suffering acute food insecurity, including 1.9 million in the Somali Region.


FEDERAL DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF ETHIOPIA- Head of state: Girma Wolde-Giorgis- Head of government: Meles Zenawi- Death penalty: retentionist- Population: 85.2 million- Life expectancy: 51.8 years- Under-5 mortality (m/f): 151/136 per 1,000- Adult literacy: 35.9 per cent

The Eritrea-Ethiopia Boundary Commission completed its mandate in October, despite Ethiopia failing to implement its ruling, and the UN Security Council withdrew the UN Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea (UNMEE) in the wake of Eritrean obstruction of its operations along the Eritrea/Ethiopia border.

Thousands of Ethiopian armed forces remained in Somalia to support the TFG in armed conflict against insurgents throughout most of the year. Accusations of human rights violations committed by Ethiopian forces continued in 2008. Insurgent factions stated that they were fighting to force Ethiopia’s withdrawal from Somalia. A phased plan for Ethiopian withdrawal was included in a peace agreement signed by the Alliance for the Re-Liberation of Somalia-Djibouti and TFG representatives in late October. Ethiopian forces began to withdraw late in the year, but had not withdrawn from Somalia completely by the end of the year.

The government faced sporadic armed conflict in the Oromo and Somali regions, with ONLF members also implicated in human rights abuses against civilians. Ethiopian opposition parties in exile remained active in Eritrea and in other countries in Africa and Europe.
“Ethiopian forces attacked the al-Hidya mosque in Mogadishu killing 21 men…”

Divisions split the opposition Coalition for Unity and Democracy (CUD) party, leading to the emergence of new opposition parties, including the Unity for Democracy and Justice Party (UDJP) led by former judge Birtukan Mideksa. She was one of more than 70 CUD leaders, journalists and civil society activists convicted, then pardoned and released in 2007.
Suicide bombers attacked Ethiopia’s trade mission in Hargeisa, Somaliland, on 29 October killing several Ethiopian and Somali civilians.

Prisoners of conscience and other political prisoners

A number of political prisoners, detained in previous years in the context of internal armed conflicts or following contested elections in 2005, remained in detention.

Bekele Jirata, General Secretary of the Oromo Federalist Democratic Movement party, Asefa Tefera Dibaba, a lecturer at Addis Ababa University and dozens of others from the Oromo ethnic group were arrested in Addis Ababa and parts of the Oromo Region from 30 October onwards. Some of those detained were accused of financially supporting the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF).

Sultan Fowsi Mohamed Ali, an independent mediator, who was arrested in Jijiga in August 2007 reportedly to prevent him from giving evidence to a UN fact-finding mission, remained in detention. Tried for alleged involvement in two hand grenade attacks in 2007, he was sentenced to 22 years’ imprisonment in May 2008.

On 15 January Birtukan Mideksa, Gizachew Shiferaw and Alemayehu Yeneneh, then senior members of the CUD, were briefly detained by police after holding party meetings in southern Ethiopia. Birtukan Mideksa was rearrested on 28 December after she issued a public statement regarding the negotiations that led to her 2007 pardon. Her pardon was revoked and the sentence of life imprisonment reinstated.

Prisoner releases
Many released prisoners faced harassment and intimidation, with some choosing to leave the country.

Human rights defenders and lawyers Daniel Bekele and Netsanet Demissie were released on 28 March. They had been detained since November 2005 together with hundreds of opposition parliamentarians, CUD members and journalists. Unlike their co-defendants in the trial who were pardoned and released in 2007, Daniel Bekele and Netsanet Demissie remained in detention, having refused to sign a document negotiated by local elders. They mounted a defence and were convicted by the Federal High Court of criminal incitement (although the presiding judge dissented) and sentenced to 30 months’ imprisonment. When it became evident they would not be released, even after they appealed, they chose to sign the negotiated document, and were subsequently pardoned and released after serving 29 months of their sentence.

Charges of conspiring to commit “outrages against the Constitution” faced by Yalemzewd Bekele, a human rights lawyer who had been working for the European Commission in Addis Ababa, were dropped, without prejudice, before trial.

Abdirahman Mohamed Qani, chief of the Tolomoge sub-clan of the Ogaden clan in the Somali Region, was detained on 13 July after receiving a large public welcome when he returned from two years abroad. He was released on 7 October, and his relatives who had also been detained were reportedly released several days later.

CUD activist Alemayehu Mesele, who had suffered harassment since his release from prison in 2007, fled Ethiopia in early May after he was severely beaten by unknown assailants.
The editor of the Reporter newspaper Amare Aregawi was severely beaten by unknown assailants on 31 October in Addis Ababa. He had previously been detained by security officers in August.

In September, the government announced that it had released 394 prisoners and commuted one death sentence to life imprisonment to mark the Ethiopian New Year.

Freedom of expression

Independent journalists continued to face harassment and arrest.
At least 13 newspapers shut down by the government in 2005 were still closed. Independent journalists were reportedly denied licences to operate, although others did receive licences. Serkalem Fasil, Eskinder Nega and Sisay Agena, former publishers of Ethiopia’s largest circulation independent newspapers, who had been detained with CUD members, were denied licences to open two new newspapers.

In February the Supreme Court upheld a decision to dissolve the Ethiopian Teachers Association (ETA) and hand over its assets to a rival union formed by the government, also known as the Ethiopian Teachers Association. This action followed years of harassment and detention of union members. In December the union, under its new name, the National Teachers’ Association, had its application for registration as a professional organization rejected.

On World Press Freedom Day (3 May) Alemayehu Mahtemework, publisher of the monthly Enku, was detained and 10,000 copies of his publication impounded. He was released after five days without charge and copies of the magazine were later returned to him.

In November a Federal High Court judge convicted editor-in chief of the weekly Enbilta, Tsion Girma, of “inciting the public through false rumours” after a reporting mistake. She reportedly paid a fine and was released.

Human rights defenders
A draft Charities and Societies Proclamation was revised several times by the government in 2008, but remained threatening to the rights of freedom of assembly, association and expression.

Its provisions included severe restrictions on the amount of foreign funding Ethiopian civil society organizations working on human rights-related issues could receive from abroad (no more than 10 per cent of total revenues). It would also establish a Civil Societies Agency with sweeping authority over organizations carrying out work on human rights and conflict resolution in Ethiopia. It was expected to be passed into law by Parliament in early 2009.

Ethiopian troops in Somalia

Ethiopia maintained a significant troop presence in Somalia which supported the TFG until the end of the year. Ethiopian forces committed human rights abuses and were reported to have committed war crimes. Ethiopian forces attacked the al-Hidya mosque in Mogadishu killing 21 men, some inside the mosque, on 19 April. More than 40 children were held for some days after the mosque raid before being released .

Many attacks by Ethiopian forces in response to armed insurgents were reported to have been indiscriminate and disproportionate, often occurring in densely civilian-populated areas.
Internal armed conflict

The government continued counter-insurgency operations in the Somali Region, which increased after attacks by the ONLF on an oil installation in Obole in April 2007. These included restrictions on humanitarian aid which have had a serious impact on conflict-affected districts of the region. The government did not allow unhindered independent access for human rights monitoring.

Reports, dating back to 2007, of beatings, rape and other forms of torture, forcible conscription and extrajudicial executions in the Somali Region were investigated by a government-contracted body but not by an independent international body.

Torture and other ill-treatment

Reports of torture made by defendants in the trial of elected parliamentarian Kifle Tigeneh and others, one of several CUD trials, were not investigated.
Conditions in Kaliti prison and other detention facilities were harsh – overcrowded, unhygienic and lacking adequate medical care. Among those detained in such conditions were long-term political prisoners held without charge or trial, particularly those accused of links to the OLF.
Mulatu Aberra, a trader of the Oromo ethnic group accused of supporting the OLF, was released on 1 July on bail and fled the country. He had been arrested in November 2007 and reportedly tortured and denied medical treatment for resulting injuries while in detention.

Death penalty

While a number of death sentences were imposed by courts in 2008, no executions were reported.

In May the Federal Supreme Court overturned earlier rulings and sentenced to death former President Mengistu Haile Mariam (in exile in Zimbabwe) and 18 senior officials of his Dergue government. The prosecution had appealed against life imprisonment sentences passed in 2007, after they were convicted by the Federal High Court of genocide and crimes against humanity perpetrated between 1974 and 1991.

On 6 April a court sentenced to death five military officers in absentia. They served under Mengistu Haile Mariam, and were held responsible for air raids in Hawzen, in the Tigray Region, which killed hundreds in a market in June 1980.

On 8 May a court in Tigray Region found six people guilty of a bus bombing in northern Ethiopia between Humora and Shira on 13 March and sentenced three of them to death.
On 21 May the Federal Supreme Court sentenced eight men to death for a 28 May 2007 bombing in Jijiga in the Somali Region.

On 22 May a military tribunal sentenced to death in absentia four Ethiopian pilots , who sought asylum while training in Israel in 2007.

Amnesty International reports

2009 Ethiopia:

Friday, May 22, 2009

Oromo activists from across Europe converged on Brussels today to raise international awareness of the ongoing human rights abuses


Oromo activists from across Europe converged on Brussels today to raise international awareness of the ongoing human rights abuses being perpetrated in Ethiopia under the administration of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi. Marching from the European Commission’s Berlaymont building, demonstrators crossed the city of Brussels to bring their message to the embassies of both the United Kingdom and the United States.

Oromo representatives explained to international media the importance of the protest as a means of bringing scrutiny to bear on Ethiopia ahead of the 2010 elections and the environmental degradation that was going unchecked at the same time as human rights were being eroded.

As part of the protest, letter of appeal were issued to the European Commission, Members of the European Parliament, representatives of the African, Caribbean, and Pacific states, and the embassies of the United States and United Kingdom.

The appeal made the following calls:

  • That the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees initiate an inquiry into allegations of human rights abuses perpetrated by the Ethiopian Government;

  • That European Union (EU) member states to raise the issue of human rights in Ethiopia with the Ethiopian government;

  • That EU member states to express a collective and public concern at the human rights situation in Ethiopia, including a call for the release of all detained political prisoners;

  • That European companies, their Ethiopian partners, and the Ethiopian government adhere to international environmental standards and obligations;

  • That a mechanism capable of bringing together all stakeholders in resolving Ethiopia’s internal conflicts be established and supported.

  • That the Ethiopian government is held publicly accountable for all aid donated to, or channelled through, its departments.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Death from Brutal Torture -HRLHA Press Release

Two civilians have become the most recent victims of torture in Ethiopia. Mr. Abdurashiid Ibrahim Adam and Mr. Hassan Ibrahim Tule, both from Eastern Hararge Region in Oromia, have died from extreme torture inflicted on them by members of the Ethiopian Security Forces while they were in prison.

Mr. Abdurashiid Ibrahim Aadam, a 38-year old farmer, was subjected to torture that resulted in his death in Burqaa Tirtiraa Prison in Eastern Hararge. According to HRLHA reporter, Mr. Abdulrashid was suspended upside down with his hands and legs tied on his back and severely whipped and beaten everywhere on his body including the sole of his feet. The security agents subjected Mr. Abdulrahsid to such harsh torture to coerce him to confess that was a member of an opposition political organization, OLF in particular, and to reveal alleged secrets he knew about the Front. HRLHA reporters have confirmed that Mr. Abdulrashid died from this brutal torture on May 08, 2009.

Mr. Hassan Ibrahim Tuulee, also known as Hassan Lakku, was a 57-year old businessman and a father of seven, who used to live in Baddanno Town in Eastern Hararge. He had been in and out of prison so many times since 1992 on the same alleged political grounds – that he was a member of opposition political organizations. Mr. Hassan Ibrahim died in prison on unspecified day in Fabruary, 2009 from harsh torture he too was subjected to while he was in prison. The possessions of Hassan Ibrahim, money, a car and other valuable items, were confiscated by members of the security forces.

HRLHA reporters have confirmed that these are the very common types and systems of tortures most alleged political detainees face while in detention.

Back ground Information;- It has been being reported widely that thousands of members of the Oromo ethnic group have been killed, kidnapped, disappeared and/or detained, and many of subjected to different forms of torture in prisons in recent years for allegedly having links with the OLF. Also, thousands of Oromos have gone into exile. The OLF has been fighting the Ethiopian government in eastern and western Oromia Region and in other areas since 1992. The Human Rights League of the Horn of Africa/HRLHA believes that those who were subjected to such harsh treatments, including killings and inhuman actions that resulted in death, were innocent citizens who had not used or did not advocate violence.

HRLHA calls upon governments of the West, all local, regional and international human rights agencies to join hands and demand the end of such inhuman treatments, and to pressurize the Ethiopian government to bring the culprits to justice and to immediately release its citizens who have been detained on alleged political grounds.

The HRLHA is a non-political and non-profit organization that attempts to challenge abuses of human rights of the people of various nations and nationalities in the Horn of Africa. It works on defending fundamental human rights including freedoms of thought, expression, movement and association. It also works on raising the awareness of individuals about their own fundamental human rights and that of others. It encourages the observances as well as due processes of law. It promotes the growth and development of free and vigorous civil societies.

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Oromo Rally at the Capitol Against Ethiopian Brutal Regim

Press Release of the International Oromo Youth Association (IOYA)

The March on Washington: Oromo Youth Rally at the Capitol

The brutal regime of Ethiopia has intensified its repression against the citizens of the country, especially the Oromo people, by systematically depriving them of basic human rights and access to basic needs. Because of this, since the current minority regime of Addis Ababa clinched power in 1992, the Oromo people have seen the largest exodus in its recorded history in the search for a peaceful life. Today, hundreds of thousands who fled the country to neighbouring African nations are living in nightmare, in fear of forced deportation, killing and arrest pursuits, while those who remained in the country are oppressed and kept economically and politically isolated.

Just recently, the Ethiopian governments killing squad, also known as Agazi army, has targeted Oromo students at several colleges and universities arresting over 80 students from Bahirdar University alone. The victims were targeted for calling on the government authorities to uphold law of the land, for demanding an immediate halt on the ethnically derogatory remarks by government agents against Oromos on the university campus, and those who made the remarks be brought to justice. According to a report obtained on 23rd of March 2009, Bahirdar University student (Tasew Tabor – an Oromo) was abducted by the government commando from his dorm room without any evidence of wrongdoing. His whereabouts are unknown to date. This is just one example of what Oromo students are facing in many University campuses across Ethiopia.

Various human rights reports indicate Oromo students are not the only targets of this unjust system. In the past year alone, hundreds of innocent civilians, besides college students, like local business owners, farmers, teachers and other professionals have been arrested without any warrant, detained without bail, tortured and extra-judicially killed. For example, in Western Hararge, an Oromo farmer was brutally attacked and killed by government death squads and several others abducted from neighbouring towns. These types of arbitrary atrocities did not spare even nursing women and the elderly.

While the Ethiopian government is amassing millions of dollars from international donors, more than ten percent of the population is on the verge of death from starvation, and millions of children are severely malnourished. The government has been hiding this grave situation that has been dubbed by many as ‘a green famine.’ Lack of good governance and corruption of almost all government officials are the culprits for this humanitarian crisis.

Because of this, we, the Oromo youth in Diaspora, feel obliged to be the voice for the voiceless majority in Ethiopia. In light of this obligation, on April 20, 2009, we gathered in front of the United States Department of State to voice our concerns and call on the US government to stop funding the dictatorial regime in Addis Ababa.

Oromo youth, community members and concerned citizens came from every corner of the United States, to take part in this rally. Despite the heavy rain and unsuitable conditions, we were able to conduct a successful rally and deliver a letter detailing our concerns to President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Accordingly, we have adopted a resolution to continue the struggle until the Oromo people and other oppressed people in Ethiopia are free of oppression, and pledged to renew our struggle and to stand against injustices:

Whereas the government of Ethiopia does not respect the very same constitution it had ratified Whereas innocent people continue to languish in prison for no apparent reason.
Whereas people are intentionally left to starve if they refuse to agree with government’s policy’s.
Whereas Oromo students continue to be expelled from universities and colleges while some also get imprisoned.
Whereas the resources of the country are being used to make the government officials and their friends rich.
Whereas the government continues to build its home-state Tigray at the expense of the rest of the country
Whereas the media inside the country is being used as the government’s propaganda machine.

Justice for Oromo People and Justice for All!

International Oromo Youth Association
PO Box 14668
Minneapolis, MN 55414