HRLHA – URGENT ACTION
December 10, 2014
The Human Rights League of the Horn of Africa (HRLHA) would like to express its deep concern over the outbreak of a deadly disease at Gimbi Jail in Western Wollega, as a result of which one inmate has already died and sixty (60) others infected. HRLHA strongly believes that the very poor sanitation in the jail, absence of basic necessities, and denial of treatment after catching the illness have contributed to Mr. Yaikob Nigaru’s death. HRLHA fears that those who have already caught the disease might be facing the same fate. It is well documented that particularly inmates deemed “political prisoners” are deliberately subjected to unfriendly and unhealthy environments and, after getting sick as a result, are not allowed access to treatment until they approach or reach the stage of coma, which is when recoveries are very unlikely. HRLHA considers it one way of the systematic eliminations of alleged and/or perceived political dissidents.
Mr. Ya’kob Nigatu was one of the 224 Oromo Nationals (139 from Gimbi in Western Wollaga, 80 from Ambo, and 5 from Ma’ikellawi in Addis Ababa/Finfinne) who were charged by the Federal Government on the 10th of November, 2014 for allegedly committing acts of terrorism in relation to the April/May, 2014 peaceful protests by Oromo students in different parts of the regional state of Oromia. HRLHA has learnt that five of the 224 Oromo defendants, who were held at the infamous Ma’ikelawi Criminal Investigation for about six months, were subjected to harassments and intimidations through isolations and confinements, with no visitations by relatives and friends, no access to a lawyer, and no open court appearance until when they were eventually taken to court to be given the charges. Those five Oromo nationals, who were transferred to Kilinto Jail right after receiving the alleged terrorism charges, were:
- Ababe Urgessa Fakkansa (a student from Haromaya University),
- Magarsa Warqu Fayyisa (a student from Haromaya University),
- Addunya Kesso (a student from Adama University),
- Bilisumma Dammana (a student from Adama University),
- Tashale Baqala Garba (a student from Jimma University), and
- Lejjisa Alamayyo Soressa (a student from Jimma University).
HRLHA has also received reports that 29 Oromo nationals, who have been attending the Addis Ababa/Finfinne University, have been denied proofs of graduations (degrees and/or diplomas) and, as a result, prevented from graduating after completing their studies for allegedly taking part in the April/May peaceful protests of Oromo students and other nationals against the newly drafted and introduced Finfinne Master Plan. The 29 Oromo students were first detained along with 23 other Oromo students of the same university, following the protests, and released on bails ranging between $1000.00 and $4000.00 Birr. Upon re-admission back to the University, they were all (52 of them) forced to appear before the disciplinary committee of the University, where they were asked to confess that their involvement in the peaceful demonstrations was wrong and that they should apologize to the Government and the public. According to reports from HRLHA’s correspondents, it was the students’ refusal to confess and apologize that has resulted in their prevention from graduating, despite their fulfillment of all the academic requirements. HRLHA describes the University’s becoming a political weapon as shameful, and the restrictions imposed on Oromo students as a pure act of racism aimed at partisan political gains. Of the 29 Oromo students who have become victims of the University’s non-academic action, HRLHA has obtained names of the following nine students:
- Jirra Birhanu
- Jilo Kemee
- Mangistu Daadhii
- Taddasaa Gonfaa
- Lammeessa Mararaa
- Ganna Jamal
- Nuguse Gammadaa
- Dajanee Daggafaa
- Gaddisaa Dabaree
The human rights League of the Horn of Africa (HRLHA) has reported (May 1st and 13th, 2014, urgent actions, www.humanrightleague.org) 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. Besides, Amnesty International in its most recent report on Ethiopia – “Because I am Oromo – Sweeping repression in the Oromia region of Ethiopia” – has exposed how Oromo nationals have been regularly subjected to arbitrary arrest, prolonged detention without charge, enforced disappearance, repeated torture and unlawful state killings as part of the government’s incessant attempts to crush dissent.
Also, the provisions in Ethiopia’s anti-terrorism law have been criticized by local, regional, and international human rights agencies such as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International as violating most of the fundamental rights guaranteed in the Ethiopian Constitution, other legal documents and international human rights standards that the Country has ratified. Given Ethiopia’s proven track record of mistreating and/or torturing suspected members and supporters of opposition political organizations, HRLHA calls upon the world communities, human rights, humanitarian, and diplomatic agencies so that they monitor using all means available how those young prisoners are treated in Ethiopian jails.