The Oromo Women’s Association UK (OWA UK), which successfully staged a 3-night camping outside the UK’s PM David Cameron’s office at No. 10 Downing Street in London on the 5th, 6th and 7th of January 2016, has written the following letter to PM Cameron. OWA UK has also written and sent similar letters to BBC to urge it to expand its coverage of the Oromo Protests as well as to the Kenyan Government to urge it to follow international refugee laws and conventions on asylum-seekers in Kenya.
Oromo Women’s Association UK (OWA UK)
Registered Charity No. 1163845
6th January 2016
To The Rt Hon David Cameron, MP
10 Downing Street
Dear Mr. Cameron,
Oromo Women’s Association UK (OWA UK) is a registered charity. We advocate for peace, justice and equality. All members of this association came to the United Kingdom to flee persecutions that Ethiopian government is perpetuating against any Oromo regardless.
In a country where there is unrest, it is the women, girls and children who are more affected, raped and killed because they are easy targets.
Oromo mothers and sisters of the Oromo Women’s Association members are writing to appeal to you to help stop the merciless Ethiopian government’s killings and mass arrests of peaceful Oromo protesters in the Oromia Regional State of Ethiopia.
Oromo Women’s Association has organized a demonstration to be held in front of No. 10 Downing Street on 6th of January 2016 from 10 am. Some of us will be camping in front of No. 10 from 5th of January to 7th of January 2016 to pay tribute for students who lost lives, and to express our sadness and anger against the Ethiopian government, which is killing and terrorizing peaceful protesters.
Since 11 November 2015, Oromo students have been peacefully protesting against the government’s plan to expand the jurisdiction of the capital city, Addis Ababa, into neighboring Oromia region. In response, the government accused protesters as terrorists, and deployed the army into towns, villages and other civilian areas to crush the protest. According to reports of human rights organizations, including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, more than 85 protesters have been killed, hundreds wounded and thousands arrested. In the last four weeks alone, a shocking 10,000 innocent people are herded in jail.
Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn said on state television on 16/12/15 evening the government knows that “destructive forces are masterminding the violence from the front and from behind.” He added that the government “will take merciless legitimate action against any force bent on destabilizing the area.”
Contrary to the claim of the Ethiopia government, the Oromo students are genuinely protesting against massive land grabbing that systematically evicted Oromo farmers off their land, and reduced them to homeless and beggars. Land is the livelihood of the Oromo people. Taking land from the Oromo people is destroying their identity, culture and their heritage, which was passed to them from generation to generation. Oromo students are not against development per se. To quote Muthoni Wanyeki, Amnesty’s Regional Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes:
“The suggestion that these Oromo – protesting against a real threat to their livelihoods – are aligned to terrorists will have a chilling effect on freedom of expression for rights activists.”
The government of Ethiopia has waged war on the Oromo people. The government has deployed its special security force, known as ‘Agazii’, to kill, torture, rape women and girls, and terrorizes the Oromo people.
The government of Ethiopia has announced that it is going to crash the protesters (whom it refers to as terrorists) by acting through the Command Post chaired by Prime Minister Haile Mariam Desalegn and a “Counter Terrorist Task Force” assembled for the task. Already, it has obliterated semblance of legality when it unconstitutionally suspended the administration (i.e the State Parliament and Executive) of the State of Oromia and political party in charge. We fear that this will, not only legitimatize all the arbitrary killings, mass arrest and torture perpetrated so far, but also serve as a carte blanche to freely conduct major acts of overt genocide on the Oromo people.
The Ethiopia regime has been getting financial and political support over the past 25 years from the UK government – given for the promotion of basic services probably more than any country in the world. The money, that has been given to Ethiopian government, has been used to buy ammunition to terrorize the Oromo people and other oppressed nationalities in Ethiopia; to evict innocent Oromo farmers from their land in the name of integrated development; and to build infrastructures that do not benefit the Oromo people and other oppressed nationalities in the country, such as in Gambella and Ogaden regions.
The benefit from the sale of the land is used to develop Tigray region and most of the money is shared among the Ethiopian government’s authorities. The Master Plan of Addis Ababa is a top down project that is pre-calculated to cleanse Oromo from their land. It is genocide.
The Ethiopian government continues to claim a double-digit development figure on one hand and makes aggressive campaign to convince the world. On the other hand, more than 15 million farmers are reported to have been starving (recent BBC report). The oppressive regime has continued to enrich families and friends of the ruling elites through corruption and embezzlement of public fund and resource. Millions of people in Ethiopia face malnutrition and starvation. The UN warns that the world is facing a level of global suffering not seen in a generation. “Conflicts and disasters have driven millions of children, women and men to the edge of survival” (Callum Paton, Dec. 9, 2015).
The Ethiopian government does not serve the interest of the poor and should not be given aid, as it is not benefiting the poor.
Together, we strongly protest against the on-going widespread illegal grabbing of Oromo land under the guise of development, eviction of farmers from their land, human rights violations, and extrajudicial killings of Oromo in general, and Oromo students in different schools and universities in particular.
We condemn the systematic heinous crimes perpetrated against the entire Oromo nation and other oppressed people, and we request the UK government to exert urgent and utmost pressure to:
1. Stop the arbitrary arrests, kidnappings, tortures and killings of Oromo students.
2. Respect the rule of law and bring those perpetrators to court.
3. Put a pressure on Ethiopian government to reverse the implementation of ‘Addis Ababa Master Plan’ in order to protect Oromo farmers from being evicted from their ancestral land.
4. Release all Oromo prisoners without any precondition.
5. Stop funding the terrorist Ethiopian government, which systematically use aid resource to buy ammunition and gun down innocent civilians, undermine opposition parties and protect its dictatorial power.
We seek that this 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 properties and businesses outside of Ethiopia.
Addis Alem Deressa
Chair of the Oromo Women’s Association UK (OWA UK)
On behalf of OWA UK