January 14, 2016
Mr. Ban Ki-moon
First Avenue at 46th Street
New York, NY 10017
RE: Continued Massacre in Oromia Regional State by the Tyrannical TPLF Government in Ethiopia
Dear Mr. Secretary General,
We, the Oromo Community of New York, the Oromo Community Organization (OCO) of Washington DC Metropolitan Area and the Oromo Community Association in North America (OCO_NA) write this urgent letter to bring to your attention and express our deepest concerns about the violent crackdown on the peaceful student protesters in Oromia and other regional states of Ethiopia.
The Oromo People constitute 40 percent of the Ethiopian population. But they are subjugated to political oppression, economic exploitation, human rights violation by the dictatorial minority regime of the Tigrian People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) which usurped power in 1991. The regime expropriated the total land of the nation, all economic resources, monopolized political power and subjected the whole nation to tenancy and denied all economic rights. When the degree of oppression and exploitation became unbearable the whole nation has begun to resist the excesses of the government.
In 2014, the Oromo society in general and students at different levels (Elementary, High School, and University) in particular protested the land grab policy. The land grab policy not only displaces millions of Oromo farmers from their ancestral land but also causes loss of Oromo culture, history and identity. The response by the dictatorial bloodthirsty minority government of the TPLF is shooting to kill, beating, imprisoning and torturing of the peaceful protestors .As it is to be recalled, in 2014 more than 70 students were gunned down for peacefully demanding to stop the implementation of the land grab plan. Despite the firm opposition to this plan from all Oromos, internal and external, and many losses of life and causalities, the government moved ahead in 2015 with its proposed plan, which was paused due to people’s resistance to the policy.
As a result during the last two months, Oromo students again came out to express their opposition peacefully to the Addis Ababa master plan and land grab policy implementation of the TPLF regime. However, again More than 150 Oromo nationals were shot dead, thousands wounded, beaten, more than 5000 were rounded up and thrown into jail. As the protests and killings are still on going, more causality is reported every day. Given the history of brutality of the current regime in Ethiopia, those in jail are feared to be tortured or even secretly murdered in the prison cells and others disappeared. Many corps of disappeared students is being recovered in forests, ponds, and rivers, deliberately dumped to hide traces of genocide. Mr. Bekele Gerba, vice chairman of the Oromo Federalist congress Party (OFC) is among the detained, and Mr. Bekele Naga, Secretary General of OFC is under house arrest. In General, a war of Genocide is being waged by the TPLF government against the Oromo people. The Oromia Region is now under military Command Post where all civil rights are violated, the army beats, arrests, tortures, kills at will. The army imposes curfew at any time and place. Normal life has been disrupted. Marshall Law is exercised in Oromia Region now
What is being perpetrated against peaceful demand and protest is the concern of the 40 million Oromos not students only. Accordingly, the Oromo community Organization of NY, the Oromo Community Organization (OCO) of the Washington DC Metropolitan Area and the Oromo Community Association in North America (OCO_NA) are writing this joint appeal letter to Your Excellency to express our deep concern and outrage about the current massacre of the Oromo people all over Oromia by the federal police and army of the TPLF/EPRDF Ethiopian government
The continued massacre of students and civilians is part of the grand scheme to annihilate the Oromo people and expropriate their land and resources. The late Prime Minister Meles Zenawi said a couple of years ago, while he was alive,” the majority will be diminished into a minority.” That remark reflects deep rooted objective of annihilating the Oromo, which the current TPLF leaders are bent to implement. Currently, about 90% of political prisoners in Ethiopia are Oromos. The former Defense minister stated that all prisoners speak Afaan Oromo (Oromo language) after released from prison indicating the huge number of Oromo prisoners. It is puzzling to fathom the strategy of reducing 40% of the Ethiopian population to minority unless one thinks of genocide. Generally, a war of attrition is being waged by the TPLF government against the Oromo people. The trend is dangerous. The Oromo demand deserves timely and appropriate response. Oppression leads to violent response.
Dear Mr. Secretary General,
It is so sad that such heinous crimes are repeatedly happening to the Oromo students and civilians in the 21st century without reaction from international organizations and Western democracies. Even the investigative reporters of big media are silent on the genocidal killings on going in Oromia. It was only the BBC that exposed the genocidal killings of 2014. The Oromo Diaspora has been alerting the world of the crimes of TPLF against the citizens. But nothing has been done. No member of the criminal regime has been brought to court of justice. We are observing criminal governments being brought to ICC from former Yugoslavia, Kenya, Congo Democratic Republic, Rwanda, Liberia and others. We don’t understand why the criminal TPLF government is allowed to move with impunity. Why double standard is applied when it comes to the Ethiopian dictators? Because of unrestrained criminal activity, the government has continued to massacre the Oromo people, grab their lands, plunder resources, harass and imprison. The consequence of the unabated killing of citizens with impunity by tyrannical governments will be regrettable as we can see in many countries facing similar situations today. Stitch in time avoids big crack. Oromo life matters!!
In response to the protests, the Ethiopian government has unleashed its armed forces throughout Oromia on unarmed students and citizens who are protesting peacefully against the Master Plan. Armed forces are firing live ammunition against unarmed people, killing and maiming them. Children as young as 8 year olds, pregnant women and elderly parents are among the murdered victims. Over 140 people have been killed so far and the number of casualties is rising. Thousands are being mercilessly beaten and herded into prisons. Federal armed forces are raiding university dormitories and private homes, and savagely beating and killing unarmed people. The Ethiopian government and its armed and security forces are committing the most heinous crimes against defenseless school children in all parts of Oromia and beyond. The peaceful protests involve elementary, high school and university students. Parents of the students—farmers, workers, elementary and school teachers, and university lecturers have joined youth protesters. The people are facing violent government crackdown every day. The heavy-handed, excessive use of force has resulted in the death of more than 140 victims and critical injuries of thousands of peaceful people. Thousands of students are taken into custody and facing torture and death. Because of the government’s draconian press laws and criminalization of independent media, it is difficult to account for all victims of this brutal crackdown at this moment.
The Oromo, peaceful and generous people—the creators of the gadaa system, a genuinely democratic system of government, a remarkable contribution to humanity—are dying in the hands of a brutal regime. These defenseless people need and deserve the support of the international community. We understand that what happens to the Oromo people in Ethiopia does not make the headline news in anywhere and in UN. But the Oromo are very important people. They occupy the largest region in Ethiopia, both in terms of population size and land mass. Their land is endowed with rich natural and mineral resources and serves as the backbone of the Ethiopian economy. The well-being of the Oromo society guarantees the stability and peace in the Horn of Africa. We humbly warn that there is a substantial risk in ignoring the sufferings of such a large population in the Horn of Africa, and its growing Diaspora communities. The situation in Ethiopia is getting worse every day. Neglecting them and destruction of the Oromo society will definitely contribute to larger political, economic, social and security crises that will threaten regional and global peace. Saving them saving peace in the region.
The TPLF minority regime is hoodwinking the West and international organizations including the UN, by wearing the veil of progress and development. But, the reality is the dirt under the veil. While the TPLF regime is boasting of 12% annual economic growth, 18 million Ethiopians are exposed to hunger as Your Excellency is aware, and yearning for handouts. This shows the growth propaganda is commercial. But they blame climate change. Climate change is not earthquake that happens abruptly and cause hunger and famine. The main cause of the famine is land policy and mal administration. Land is expropriated by the TPLF government which they distribute to the Chinese, Indians, Saudis, Turks, and others freely for hidden quad pro quo. TPLF is sole land lord in the country. We recall the infamous hanger of 1973 which dethroned Emperor Haile Selassie and abolished feudalism. The 2015 hunger also should have consequences.
The regime speaks of democratic process while rigging election and declaring 100% victory. In the absence of freedom of expression, press, gathering, protesting they speak of democratic prevalence. They accuse dissenters of corruption and rent seeking, while they stash billions of dollars in foreign banks by snatching from the hunger stricken Ethiopians. They snatch people’s houses and farmers land in the name of development by paying minimum or no compensation and stash away the market value. There is no guarantee of property ownership. Generally, government accountability is nil. Anger against this government is simmering. The tyrannical activity of the government is leading to volatile vent. They should be denied support unless they respect human rights, democratic principles and show transparency.
Dear Mr. Secretary General,
We earnestly request Your Excellency to use your office influence to urge the Ethiopian government to respect the right of the Oromo people, rule of law and stop killing and arresting Oromo students, implement democratic governance. If the regime doesn’t cooperate we request the UN to stop its support and impose sanctions. We specifically request that the UN:
- Stop the Genocidal war being waged by the TPLF government against the Oromo people;
- Stop the arbitrary arrests, kidnappings, tortures and killings of Oromo students and other civilians;
- Establish a commission of inquiry to investigate the current violent crackdown and extrajudicial killings;
- Bring those who committed extrajudicial killings to ICC court;
- Demand an immediate stop to the unlawful so called “Integrated development master plan” implementation and the unlawful eviction of Oromo farmers and the illegal selling of Oromo land under the disguise of such “development”;
- Demand the cancellation of the establishment of centralized Urban Development Corporation to be implemented by the federal government;
- Demand that an independent commission be appointed to investigate the mass killing in Oromia regional state and look at the prison demography;
- Demand the unconditional and immediate release of Oromo students who are jailed for exercising their constitutional right and all political prisoners;
- Demand that the regime to commit itself to the respect of human rights and allow freedom of expression and assembly and making a peaceful protest;
- Demand Ethiopian perpetrators of mass killing be brought to ICC similar to criminals in other countries;
- Demand the Oromo plight be given equal weight to that of other nations under the yoke of dictatorial regimes.
Mr. Demisse Wayessa,
Chairman, Oromo Community of NY
Desta Yebassa, Ph.D.
Board President, Oromo Community Organization (OCO) of Washington D.C. area
6212 3rd ST NW Washington, DC 20011
Dr. Guluma Gemeda, PhD
Chair, Board of Directors of Oromo Communities’ Association in North America (OCA-NA)
465 Mackubin St N, St. Paul, MN, 55103, USA
President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500
Tel: (202) 395-2020
Mr. John Kerry
Secretary of State
US Department of State
2201 C St NW Washington, DC 2052;
United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR)
Palais des Nations
CH-1211 Geneva 10, Switzerland;
The World Bank
1225 Connecticut Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20433 U.S.A.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF)
700 19th Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20431