Wednesday, August 27, 2014
ETHIOPIA: Arrests and Detentions of Oromo Students Continued
HRLHA – Press Release
August 27, 2014
While fresh arrests and detentions, kidnappings and disappearances of Oromo nationals have continued in different parts of the regional state of Oromo following the April-May crackdown of peaceful demonstrators, court rulings over the cases of some of the earlier detainees by courts of the regional state are being rejected by political agents of the governing TPLF/EPRDF Party. The renewed violence by government forces against Oromo nationals started particularly following what was termed as “Lenjii Siyaasaa” (literally meaning “political training) that has targeted Oromo Students of higher educational institutions and has been going on in the past two weeks in different parts of Oromia.
Although the agendum for the “Political Training” was said to be “the unity of the country”, it instead has become an opportunity of carrying out further screenings and arrests of students; as around 100 more students have so far been arrested from Ambo University campuses alone and sent to a remote, isolated military camp called Sanqalle, leaving families and friends in fear in regards to the safety and well-being of the students in particular; not to mention the disruption of their studies. The arrests were made following the students’ protest of their confinement into the campuses during this so call “Political Trianing”, and the demand that the killers of their fellow students be brought to justice prior to discussing “unity”. Also, five students of Wallaga University, from among those who were gathered for the same purpose of “Political Training” were kidnapped on the 22nd of August, 2014 and taken away in a vehicle with plate number 4866 ET; and their whereabouts is not known since then. HRLHA correspondents have also traced another fresh arrest and detention of around 100 Oromo nationals in a small town called Elemo, Doranni District, in Illu Abbabor Zone. It took place on the 14th of August, 2014; and Waqtole Garbe, Sisay Amana, Tiiqii Supha, Ittana Daggafa, Badiru Basha, Kamal Zaalii, Rashiid Abdu, Zetuna Waaqoo, Daggafa Tolee, Adam Ligdii, Indush Mangistu, Dibbeessa Libaan, and Ofete Jifar were a few among those detainees in Elemo Prison.
More worrisome and frustrating is agents of the federal government’s interference with regional and local judicial systems. More than one hundred students and other Oromo nationals, from among the thousands who were detained following the April-May nationwide protest, have been granted bails in local courts of the regional government of Oromia. These include 64 detainees in Dembi Dollo/Qellem, 10 in Ambo, 40 in Sibu-Sire and Digga District. But, all the court decisions were overruled by political officials representing the federal government. The Dembi Dollo/Qellem detainees in particular were granted bails four times, only to be turned down by political officials all the four rounds. On the other hand, there have been some cases in which prison terms ranging from six months to a year-and-half were imposed on the Oromo detainees, not in courts, but by those representatives of the federal government. Also, some independent lawyers complain that they were threatened by officials from the ruling party; and, as a result, refraining from representing the Oromo detainees. Usual as it has been in the past fifteen or so years, this case of interfering with and disobeying court rulings indicates that the case of these most recent Oromo detainees is purely political.
The Human Rights League of the Horn of Africa (HRLHA) calls upon the Ethiopian Government to refrain from harassing and intimidating students through such extra-judicial means as killings, arrests and detentions, and denials of justice after detention; and instead facilitate conducive teaching-learning environments. HRLHA also calls upon the Ethiopian Government to unconditionally release the detained Oromo students and other nationals; and, as requested by their fellow students, bring to justice the killers of innocent and peaceful protestors during the April-May crackdown.
The human rights League of the Horn of Africa (HRLHA) has reported (May 1st and 13th, 2014, urgent actions, www.humanrightleague.com) on the heavy-handed crackdown of the Ethiopian Federal Government’s Agazi Special Squad and the resultant extra-judicial killings of 34 (thirty-four) Oromo nationals; and the arrests and detentions of hundreds of others.
Although the brutalities of the armed squad and the resultant fatalities happened to be very high in Ambo Town, the peaceful protests by Oromo students of different universities and faculties have been taking place in April and May in various towns and cities of Oromia including Diredawa and Adama in eatern Oromia, as well as Jimma, Mettu, Naqamte, Gimbi, and Dambidollo in western Oromia.
The Oromo students of universities and colleges in different parts of the regional state of Oromia took to the streets for peaceful demonstrations in protest to the decision passed by the Federal EPRDF/TPLF-led Government to expand the city of Finfinnee/Addis Ababa by uprooting and displacing hundreds of thousands of Oromos from all sorts of livelihoods, and annexing about 36 surrounding towns of Oromia, the ultimate goal of which is claimed to be re-drawing the map of the Oromia Region. The federal annexation plan, which was termed as “The Integrated Development Master Plan”, is said to be covering the towns of Dukem, Gelan, Legetafo, Sendafa, Sululta, Burayu, Holeta, Sebeta, and others, stretching the boundary of Finfinne/Addis Ababa to about 1.1million hectares – an area