Oromo-Canadian Community Association: Open Letter to the Prime Minister of Canada
The Right Honorable Stephen Harper
80 Willington Street
Ottawa, On K1A0A2
Dear Prime Minister,
We, members of the Oromo-Canadian Community Association, are outraged with the Ethiopian government recent onslaught on the Oromo students who have been peacefully demonstrating against the so called ‘Master Plan of the City of Addis Ababa.’
For the last two weeks, Oromo students at various universities across the Regional State of Oromia, Ethiopia, have been staging demonstrations against the ‘Master Plan’ due for implementation. Using their democratic rights, the students have been legally and peacefully demonstrating within and around their respective university campuses against the plan that will uproot the Oromo communities residing in towns surrounding the City of Addis Ababa.
This plan is highly contested on the ground that it contravenes the constitutional rights of the people of Oromia. The immediate political, economic, and social impact on the communities slated for evictions will be enormous; that it will erode their political rights and expose them to abject poverty like those who have already been dispossessed of their land and ended up in the city slums with no means of living.
Voicing this concern of the Oromo society, the students began opposing the plan in various forms one of which is demonstration. While the demonstration of students against the plan is within the bound of their democratic rights, it did not sit well with the Ethiopian government – the government that has been notoriously known for its zero tolerance to any opposition during the last 23 years of its reign. In the last couple of days, crafting its usual bogus pretext, the government has launched its crackdown on the students. Alleging that the ‘students are against development’, it has dispatched to university campuses in Ambo, Adama, Walaga, Robe, Jima, Haramaya, Dire Dawa, Metu, and Finfinne (Addis Ababa) its elite security force drawn predominantly from Tigray Region, the ‘Agazi Special Security Force’ known for its brutality, to quash the rightful opposition of the Oromo students.
Now credible reports from back home reveal that the Agazi force has embarked on its terrorizing mission. In a broad daylight, in just the last two days, they cold-bloodedly murdered many students and unarmed residents of the various towns who were attempting to shelter students escaping from brutal beating and mass arrest by the Agazi force. As the killing rampage has not relented, it is very hard to provide the exact death toll. We know for sure, in Ambo alone, BBC reported the death of 47 students and residents of the city. At Harmaya and Mada Walaabu universities similar killings have been reported.
To fully subdue the students and muzzle their voice against injustice, the government force has continued with its campaign of mass arrest, torture, and killing spree at various campuses throughout Oromia. The situation is now exceedingly dire. We fear that it could escalate to a level that gravely threatens the lives of the students.
With independent local and international media totally banned by the Ethiopian regime, we are concerned that the heinous crimes that the regime commits could go unnoticed by the international community. With its abysmal record of human rights abuse that parallels few in the world and yet facing no consequence from the international community, the regime will undoubtedly continue perpetrating atrocities on citizens with dissenting views.
The Ethiopian regime has a history of repeatedly committing heinous crimes. The type and scale of the crimes it has perpetrated on the people of Oromia and other ethnic groups during its 23 years of reign are well documented by prominent international human rights organizations, such as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International. With no consequences for its actions from the international community, the regime is emboldened to continuously trample upon the rights of citizens.
It is this Ethiopian regime, one devoid of democratic ethos and respect for human rights, which the Government of Canada financially supports with no string attached. Canadian tax payers deserve better. Aids from the Canadian Government should not sustain the Ethiopian regime that has total disregard for democratic values and the rule of law.
We appeal to you and your government to weigh the actions of the Ethiopian regime and use your good office to exert an appropriate pressure on the rulers of Ethiopia to play by the rule of law and stop terrorizing citizens who voice legitimate concerns. We feel strongly that Canada with its global reputation as a defender of human rights has the high moral authority to raise the issue of human rights with the Ethiopian regime.
The Honorable Thomas Mulcair, Leader of the Official Opposition
Mr. Justin Trudeau, Leader of the Liberal Party of Canada
Ms. Elizabeth May, Leader of the Green Party of Canada