Oromia Support Group
Under Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Africa)
and Commonwealth Office
25 August 2013
in Ethiopian custody of Tesfahun Chemeda, after refoulement from Kenya
is with sadness and anger that I report the death of a young Oromo in Kaliti
prison, Ethiopia, on 24 August, yesterday. Tesfahun Chemeda was a student
activist in Ethiopia and a political activist among refugees in Kenya, where he
was granted refugee status by UNHCR. He was arrested with a colleague, Mesfin
Abebe, by Kenyan anti-terrorist police on 2 April 2007.
cleared by the anti-terrorist unit and by the FBI, the men were subject to
refoulement to Ethiopia at the request of the Ethiopian authorities. UNHCR, the
Refugee Consortium of Kenya and the Kenyan Human Rights Commission were told in
court, after their application for habeas corpus, that the men
had been returned to Ethiopia, whereas they remained in custody in Kenya for at
least two more days after the court hearing.
and Mesfin disappeared in detention in Ethiopia until charged with terrorist
offences in December 2008. They were sentenced to life imprisonment in March
 (Mesfin’s death sentence
was later commuted.)
 Tesfahun was transferred
from Zeway prison to Kaliti, where he had been held in solitary confinement for
nearly two years before he was killed.
 This is not the first time
young Oromo men have been killed in detention. For example, Alemayehu Garba,
partially paralysed with polio, was shot dead with 18 others in Kaliti prison
in November 2005.
 Refoulement of
UNHCR-recognised refugees from Djibouti and Somaliland continues.
long must we wait for Her Majesty’s Government and other western governments to
stop maintaining the EPRDF in power? Over one third of Ethiopia’s budget is in
foreign aid. Ethiopia receives more aid from the UK than any other country in the
is a shocking state of affairs and an appalling way to spend UK taxpayers’
money. I am tired of hearing from Ministers and officials that they take every
opportunity to engage with representatives of the Ethiopian government at the
highest level to express their serious concerns about human rights abuses and
lack of democratic progress in Ethiopia.
have been hearing this for over twenty years. When are we going to see an
effective response by those who control Ethiopia’s purse strings?
the UK is so wedded to providing aid to Ethiopia, than at least we should
insist on it being contingent on real, measurable benchmarks of human rights
and democratisation and not the desk-based studies of government-controlled
data which support the status quo in Ethiopia.
should be backed by effective sanctions so that members of the Ethiopian
government are prevented from travelling to the UK and America and investing in
property and businesses outside of Ethiopia.
meaningful sanctions are applied, growing disaffection with the west,
previously noted by former US Ambassador Yamamoto, is likely to mature further.
Under the oppression of the Ethiopian regime, opposition voices are becoming
more likely to find expression in the very movements which the support of
Ethiopia, because of its cooperation in the ‘war on terror’, is meant to avoid.
authoritarian regime in Ethiopia is a major cause of instability affecting the
whole of the Horn of Africa. Supporting it and investing in it is a
Trevor Trueman, Chair, Oromia Support Group