December 4, 2015
The Honorable Barack H. Obama
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
Dear President Obama;
I am the Head of Foreign Affairs, Oromia Independence Front (OIF) writing to you on behalf of my organization, OIF and the Oromo people to express my deep concerns regarding human rights violations by Ethiopian authorities. The TPLF/EPRDF government has been terrorizing the Oromo People in Ethiopia since it came to power in 1991. Sadly yet again, we learned this week the TPLF lead government killed many peaceful Oromo demonstrators and engaged in arresting hundreds of Oromos for peaceful demonstration against the so called Addis Ababa master plan—an expansion of the city of Addis Ababa which is designed to expel thousands of Oromo families without proper compensation. The killing and terrorizing innocent Oromo students by the government security forces is ongoing as I am writing this letter. Just a year ago, in May 2014, the regime has killed 70 Oromo students for peacefully opposing to the Addis Ababa Master plan for which no one is held accountable. What these demonstrators have done was simply demand a better policy from the government. However, the security forces responded with bullets, which have been in practice by the TPLF’s government for the last 24 years. TPLF’s action was against the rule of law by any standards and more than all, violations of god given rights for the human beings. Thus, the OIF strongly denounces this cowardly acts and appeal to international communities including your government.
By very conservative estimate, the Oromo people constitute close to 40% of Ethiopia’s population of about 93 million. Despite being the majority, the oromos face subjugation, domination and marginalization. The Oromo’s have been struggling to end this injustice for a long period of time. Thousands of Oromo’s are languishing in prisons just for standing up for their god given rights. Many Oromo nationals remain the target of the TPLF government not because of their political beliefs but for their ethnic identity. There is no dual process of legal system/representation under the current government of Ethiopia. The TPLF government continues to stay on the shoulders of the Ethiopian pepoles at gun point. Under the TPLF hegomony, consititution is not the supreme law of the land and the fundamental rights of the citzens are not guaranteed.
As I have stated above, during the last 24 years, the harassment, imprisonment, and killing of the Oromo have continued and are becoming more serious and dangerous with each passing day.
Since they came to power, the TPLF security forces have been carrying state sponsored terror on the Ethiopian people with the special targets upon the Oromos. I believe the recent violations of human rights by Ethiopian authorities are not new—it has been repetitive action by security forces to silence the will of the citizens.
Dear Mr. President,
For your convenience, I have highlighted the following historical Human Rights violations of citizens by Ethiopian authorities to the Oromo people include but are not limited to the following items:
- Because of its minority position and narrow social base, the TPLF-dominated EPRDF regime suffers from acute insecurity. As a result of this siege mentality, it views members of non-Tigrean ethnic groups as potential political enemies, especially if one refuseses to join TPLF’s surrogate political parties. Oromo nationalists are perpetually under attack. This minority government has declared war on the Oromo people and their leading political organizations. The persecution is worse on those who are known to support or belong to the opposition groups. Nevertheless, every Oromo is suspected of being a member or a supporter of the Oromo National Liberation Movement groups for simply being an Oromo. Suspicion is enough to land a person in jail, torture, and killings. Torture is a routine matter. Since 1992, tens of thousands have been detained at secret prisons—many without ever having a fair chance to challenge their illegal arrests under a court of law;
- Human rights activists, students, youth organizers, teachers, opinion makers, journalists and generally the more politically active are subjected to harassment, intimidation, and arrests. Staggering cases of “disappearances” and extra-judicial killings are documented by the Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and by the embassy of various governments including yours. Leaders of grass-roots civil organizations unaffiliated with the ruling party are not tolerated and face persecution;
- According to highly respected sources, including Human Rights Watch, Amnesty international, and BBC have documented that the mass arrest and prosecution without probable cause but suspects were convicted based on political decision not under due process of law. This conviction of by political elites includes death sentences—which under this rule many innocent lives lost;
- In 1995- 1999 the TPLF government burned down over 100,000 of hector forester land as clearing out the Oromo Liberation Fighters from the area;
- Since 2005, the TPLF lead government has been removing farmers from their land and giving the land to foreign investors. This was committed under the name of investment; however, it is simple land grabbing. The farmers have been displayed from their land without proper planning about their futures. As consequence of this act, many of them left to be homeless, baggers and economic refugees;
- Numerously the security forces arrested, tortured and killed innocent as young as elementary, junior and high school students in mass and expel them from the school without considering youngster ages- just by simple suspect of being against the government.
- Repetitively the security forces killed and arrested innocent university and college students in mass and expel them from the school just for being both Oromo and demanding a better policy. The worst one we have witnessed was in 2005 where over 400 students were expelled from their school without reasonable cause and without any rule of law;
- In 2011 the TPLF government banned the Macha-Tulama Self-Help Association—legally registered NGO functioned within the county’s rules and regulations. This was 48 years old non-political organization— it purpose was to provide socio-economic services. Nevertheless, TPLF closed the organization, arrested it’s leaders and confiscated it properties— this shows TPLF is against every sector of the Oromos;
- In 2012 and 2013 Ethiopian Muslim communities demanded a better policy which was asking their government not to be involved in their religion—that demonstration had took place almost for a year peacefully; nevertheless, instead of respecting the people’s demand, the security forces arrested thousands of peaceful demonstrators and killed many of their members just simply for asking to practice their religion freely without government interference;
- Repetitively, the Ethiopian security forces have planted the conflicts between the neighboring tribes. Just to name a few: conflict between the Oromo and Amaras, conflict between the Oromo and Somali in the eastern Ethiopian zone, and conflict between the Oromo and Benshegul and;
- In the same mechanism, repetitively, the Ethiopian security forces have planted the conflicts between the religion followers: between the Christians and Muslims followers—even between the different doctrines of the same religion. The good example is what the security forces had have done among the Ethiopian Muslim followers which never been two sectors of doctrines in Ethiopian Muslim before the government forces has secretly funded unknown Muslim sectors for their political consumptions.
- In May 2014, the TPLF/EPRDF security forces have killed over 70 Oromo student peaceful demonstrators just for asking basic rights;
We hope this shows the TPLF government has hidden agenda of the war on its own people in general and particular on the Oromo, ethnic cleansing.
I believe that your country is in a frontline to promote democracy and good governance across the globe—in addition, I know that this is your personal passionate too. However, as the organization, we are highly concerned about the international communities, including yours on the silences and continue supporting the TPLF lead government despite their crimes against humanity.
In order to promote democracy and good governance, people in the position should be held accountable. As the organization representing the Oromo people, OIF strongly believe in that call of holding individual accountability to nurture the true democracy the world communities wish for. However, in Ethiopia, the leaders cannot be held accountable by its own citizens as the Ethiopian leaders are above the rule of law. The only way they can be held accountable is if the international communities held them accountable by denouncing them openly and publicly; if the funds not provide to them which they have been waging war against their own people; and if the international body brought them to criminal justice for their crime against innocent people.
Ethiopian government has not lived in the eyes of call for democracy and good governance; as the democracy and good governance call for peaceful conflict resolution— as we sadly experienced since it came to power, the TPLF lead coalition resounded to citizens’ demands at the gun points. For the last 24 years, the TPLF lead coalition has never put in place a conflict resolution system. This by itself implies that they are not willing to have a peaceful country’s where democracy can be exercised— they choose to lead at the gun points. I am hopeful any reasonable government body will agree with us that the hoped peace, democracy, and economic development will not be happened under such human rights violating leaders.
As the world knows, Ethiopia is among the least developing countries. In order to compact poverty, the government needs to focus on educating its people. TPLF is working against this principles- it is an evident by itself by expelling thousands of Oromo students from school, mass arresting, and killing thousands of college kids since it came to the power—and unfortunately the Ethiopian government continued this action as its core strategic planning of silencing and destruction of our futures. Hence, my organization strongly urges the international communities including yours to speak against these crimes against our students.
Dear President Barak Ubama,
Regardless of their crimes against its own people, the TPLF government continues to receive political and material supports from the democracy and good governance promoting countries— including yours.
I do not believe that your government’s intention is to supplement the TPLF’s criminal action but your silence and continuous supports have been sending two hazardous signals despites your good wills to promote democracy across the world—: the TPLF took your silence as an opportunity to carry out its inhuman action against our people; and after appealing over and over to your government— our people have started questioning your motive, if your government is really willing to promote the true democracy by holding accountability of the power holders such as of TPLF.
I am very sure the international communities—including yours have enough information about the human rights violations in Ethiopia in general and Oromo people in particular. In addition, we believe your office has information of the out crises by thousands of the oppressed people of Ethiopia at home and aboard. Despites, criminal conducts by the TPLF government and your good willing to promote democracy across the world, we have never heard your government’s position openly and publicly denouncing the wrong doing of the Ethiopian government against its own people. I am sure you have never endorsed their cowardly acts of killing innocent Oromo students but we need to hear from you openly and publicly that way our people will have cleared their wrong assumption toward your silence and the TPLF government also will learn that someone is with the people’s wish.
For the above historical facts and reasons, my organization is highly concerned that, the TPLF lead government will continue its genocides against our people: mass arresting, torturing, killing, and expelling thousands of college student from their education, and planting conflicts among the neighboring tribes and religions for their political consumptions- under the strategy of divide and rule— to extend its power.
These acts will cost all stakeholders, Oromo, Ethiopian, and the international communities irreversible prices—whereas the world communities are coming together to eliminate inequality through democratic system, by increasing human capital—health, education and skills for human well-beings. Especially we are very concerned that the government of Ethiopia will continue unjust arresting, torturing, killing and expelling college students. Doing this upon these students should have been seen as working in contradiction of the war against poverty and inequality; nevertheless, the Ethiopian government has been focused on social and economic distractive mechanism for the Oromo students; our tomorrow’s leaders. The TPLF acts are costly to us as the Oromo and we believe that will cost the world communities too. Therefore it is important to condom and send strong signal to the TPLF leaders to immediately restrain their unlawfully and cowardly actions against peaceful demonstrators and bring those who committed inhuman acts to our people and killed our students to the International Criminal Court (ICC).
In closing, I respectfully urge your government to examine carefully the likely effects of democracy and good governance in Ethiopia by:
- Demanding the Ethiopian government to not continue their act of arresting, killing and expelling the students from their education for simply demanding a better policy;
- Addressing the concerns of Oromo people that your governments is for democratic process, not solely to support the current government;
- Holding the Ethiopian government to respect human rights and demanding them investigates human rights violation and prosecute those who committed crimes against our people;
- Ensuring your policy toward the Ethiopia human rights standards by paying particular attention to the process of democracy and good governance in Ethiopia; and
- Holding funds for non-compliance to the standards in place for democracy and good governance.
Head of Foreign Affairs
Oromian Independence Front, OIF