Secretary of State John Kerry
US Department of State
2201 C Street NW
Washington, DC 20520
RE: OSA’s Appeal Letter to US Secretary of State John Kerry in Advance of his Trip to Ethiopia
Dear Honorable Mr. Kerry,
I am writing this letter on behalf of the Oromo Studies Association (OSA), a scholarly organization established by Oromo and non-Oromo scholars to promote studies on and relevant to the Oromo people, the largest ethno-national group in the Horn of Africa constituting about 40% of the Ethiopian population. We have learned from the media outlets about your planned trip to Ethiopia to attend the AU summit in Addis Ababa (Finfinnee) from May 19 to 27, 2013. While we welcome your trip to Africa and appreciate the desire of the United States to actively engage in the continent, we are gravely concerned that your trip to Ethiopia and your contact with the Ethiopian authorities might be construed as your government’s endorsement of the minority TPLF-led Ethiopian government’s crimes against humanity and its continuous human rights violations against the Oromo and other peoples of the country. These crimes have been consistently and repeatedly well documented, among several other reliable sources, by the US State Department annual reports on Ethiopia.
Your upcoming trip to Ethiopia comes at a time when the Ethiopian government authorities continue with their massive human rights violations under the cover of fighting terrorism by branding dissenters as “terrorists”; religious freedom is curtailed and thousands of Muslims are peacefully protesting every week demanding freedom of religion despite the fact that the government unlawfully prohibited any peaceful rally in the country; millions of Oromo farmers and other indigenous people are unlawfully and forcefully evicted from their ancestral villages and their fertile arable and grazing lands which have been their livelihood for centuries are given to transnational and Tigrayan investors; the freedom of speech and the freedom of the press have been suppressed.
Dear Honourable Mr. Kerry:
Our scholarly association has continuously appealed to the different offices of your government, requesting that the United States stop supporting the Ethiopian regime until it stops its human rights abuses. Some examples our appeals are:
- On January 25, 2013, we have written a joint letter to your predecessor, her Honourable Madam Hillary Clinton, for her to use her influence with the Ethiopian government and facilitate the release of all political prisoners and to take practical action to promote real democratic changes in Ethiopia. Furthermore, on the same day, we organized and held a protest rally of several hundreds of Oromo-Americans in front of the US State Department asking your government to stop supporting the minority ethnocratic regime in Ethiopia.
- Demand the release of tens of thousands of Oromo and other political prisoners, some of which have been sentenced to death. To mention a few among the tens of thousands of Oromo nationals languishing in jail for being Oromos include Mesfin Abebe (civil engineer, sentenced to death in March 2010), Tesfahun Chemeda (civil engineer, sentenced to life in March 2010), Eshetu Kitil (Businessman and owner of the Hawi Hotel, sentenced to 12 years without parole in March 2010), Aberash Yadeta (female, sentenced to 12 years without parole in 2010), Wabe Haji (sentenced to 12 years without parole in 2010), and many, many others. Furthermore, about 200 Oromo youth were rounded up and arrested when they were peacefully celebrating the annual Irreechaa festival (Oromo thanksgiving) at Lake Arsadi, Bushoftu, Oromia. The pictures of some of the youth arrested on this festival pictures shown below.
- Demand the unconditional release of 29 leaders of the Ethiopian Muslim community who were arrested between July 19 and July 21, 2012 and afterwards, including Chairman Abubakar Ahmed, Spokesperson Ahmedin Jebel and committee members Kamil Shemsu, Sultan Aman, Adem Kamil, Jemal Yasim and Meket Muhe, and others. You may not be aware that hundreds of Ethiopian Muslims are protesting on a weekly basis, non-stop for over a year, asking the government to stop interfering in their religious affairs and demanding the release of their spiritual leaders who have been unlawfully thrown into jail.
- Forcefully inform the Ethiopian government authorities that US aid to Ethiopia will be contingent on their respect of human rights of the Ethiopian citizens and on the unconditional release of all political prisoners. Don’t let the Ethiopian authorities try to fool you by telling you the usual lie that “there are no political prisoners in Ethiopia.” Bekele Gerba, Olbana Lelisa, Mesfin Abebe, Eshetu Kitil, Wabe Haji, and tens of thousands others are all political prisoners.