Online Petition of Oromo Communities’ Association in North America (OCA-NA)
During the last four weeks, the Oromo students and farmers are protesting peacefully against the land grab policy of the (EPRDF) regime which is evicting and displacing millions of farmers from their ancestral land all over Oromia region. However, Ethiopian government responded to the protestors by using excessive force—killed about 125, injured hundreds of students severely, and jailed and imprisoned thousands of protesters who are still languishing in Ethiopian prisons and hidden concentration camps.
Bekele Gerba was advocated and voiced to the world why such barbaric action has taken on innocent civilians and Oromo protestors by the minority led TPLF Ethiopian regime. Bekele Gerba is the Deputy Chairman of the Oromo Federalist Congress party and a widely respected peace advocate. He is a renowned voice for nonviolence, urging only peaceful forms of resistance to violent oppression in Ethiopia. He envisions peaceful struggle as the preferred means for attaining democracy, unity, and justice. He has become a significant voice of this generation.
Online Petition To:
The United Nations
405 E 42nd St, New York, NY 10017
The World Bank
1225 Connecticut Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20433 U.S.A.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF)
700 19th Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20431
RE: Brutal Repression of the Oromo People by the Ethiopian Government
Stop the massacre of Oromo people and suppression of human rights in Ethiopia
We, members of the Oromo communities in Diaspora, write this urgent letter to bring to your attention the atrocities perpetrated on the Oromo people in Ethiopia. At this moment, the Oromo people are under siege; schools are closed, normal economic activities are disrupted and the farmers are confined to their homes, which are violated and searched by government agents without legal warrants. Over the last four weeks, over 86 students, teachers and farmers were killed by armed government forces. Mass arrest are going on daily and the government is terrorizing citizens. We are deeply concerned by the eviction of thousands of farmers from their lands in the name development and for the expansion of the capital city, Addis Ababa (Finfinnee). We are worried that, if unchecked immediately, the current state-sponsored killings, mass arrests and evictions could lead to unimaginable human tragedies and extraordinary regional crisis. We are appealing for urgent intervention of by the United Nations and the global community before it is too late, to avoid what had happened in Rwanda and other places earlier.
The Oromo communities in Diaspora are organized in communities on all continents where they are legally settled over the last forty years. Many of them left their homeland due to political repression by successive Ethiopian regimes, including the incumbent Ethiopian Peoples’ Revolutionary Front (EPRDF). We, citizens and permanent legal residents of the countries in which we currently reside, have many close relatives who are daily suffering in Ethiopia. We feel their physical torture and sorrows; and we, on our part, endure immense psychological pain every day. For this reasons, we are obliged to bring their sufferings to the attention of the global community. To seek relief from the daily violent crackdown on the peaceful protesters in Oromia and other regional states of Ethiopia. The Oromo Communities’ Association in North America is a non-profit organization established to serve the Oromo Diaspora and advocate for the human rights of all Oromos and other peoples in Ethiopia.
During the last four weeks, Oromo students have peacefully demonstrated at their schools and on their college campuses. They came out on streets to express their opposition to the Addis Ababa Master Plan which the government is implementing aggressive against wide-spread opposition form the people. The students and farmers are protesting peacefully against the land grab policy of the (EPRDF) regime which is evicting and displacing millions of farmers all over the country. The current protests are reignited when the government announced its intention to implement the Master Plan at any cost. The plan proposes the annexation of Oromo towns and farm lands surrounding the capital city. Oromo student protesters reject this plan because it was prepared in total secrecy, and is now imposed on the people without their consent. The current round of peaceful protest started by elementary and high school students in a small district called Grinch on November 12, 2015. Since then, it has spread to other elementary schools, high schools and universities across the State of Oromia. Parents, farmers, factory workers, medical professionals and merchants have joined the protest.
The Oromia regional state, which endorses the controversial master Plan, is a puppet political institution that is filled with individuals who are serving the ruling political party, particularly the dominant Tigray Peoples Liberation Front (TPLF). The regional state does not have any power or legitimacy outside the support it enjoys form its creators, the TPLF. But it does the dirty work for the ruling party by harassing and killing the Oromo people, and by collaborating with the Tigray-led army. Student protesters and their parents are left without any support. For the Oromo people, the proposed urban master plan presents severe political, economic, cultural, social and environmental disasters.
Unfortunately, this is not the first time that the students and farmers are opposing the Addis Ababa Master Plant peacefully. A year ago, when the Oromo came out to oppose the controversial Master Plan, the Ethiopian government used excessive force—killed at least 78 people, injured hundreds of students severely, and jailed and imprisoned thousands of protesters who are still languishing in Ethiopian prisons and hidden concentration camps. Many students who survived the violence fled the country and went into exile to escape the repression. Despite the massive opposition, the government has arrogantly continued to implement the controversial master plan, which is displacing thousands of Oromo farmers from their ancestral lands and sacred groves around Finfinnee (Addis Ababa) and other places. The Oromo perceive this eviction policy as prelude to exterminate them by destroying their culture, history, language and land.
In response to the protests, the Ethiopian government has unleashed its armed forces throughout Oromia on unarmed students and citizens who are protesting peacefully against the Master Plan. Armed forces are firing live ammunition against unarmed people, killing and maiming them. Children as young as 8 year olds, women and elderly parents are among the murdered victims. Over 85 people have been killed so far and the number of casualties is rising. Thousands are being mercilessly beaten and herded into prisons. Federal armed forces are raiding university dormitories and private homes, and savagely beating and killing unarmed people. The Ethiopian government and its armed and security forces are committing the most heinous crimes against defenseless school children in all parts of Oromia and beyond. The peaceful protests involve elementary, high school and university students. Students in Western and Eastern Wellega, Iluu Abba Boor, and Jimma; the central region of Shawa; Arsi, Bale and Hararge in the east; and Borana and Gujii zones in the south are participating in the protests actively. Parents of the students—farmers, workers, elementary and school teachers, and university lecturers have joined youth protesters. The people are facing violent government crackdown every day. The heavy-handed, excessive use of force has resulted in the death of at least eight five victims and critical injuries of hundreds of peaceful people. Thousands of students are taken into custody and facing torture and death. Because of the government’s draconian press laws and criminalization of independent media, it is difficult to account for all victims of this brutal crackdown at this moment. But we have received credible reports of the death of the following students, teachers and farmers:
- Gezahegn Oliqa, University of Haramaya, murdered on December 1, 2015.
- Gutu Abera Dheressa, High School student, Guliso, Western Wellega, killed on December 2, 2015.
- Karrasa Chala, Guliso, Western Wellega, killed on December 2, 2015.
- Dabala Tafa Roba, Chancho, North of Addis Ababa, killed on December 2, 2015.
- Dajane Sarbessa, High School student, Tole, Western Shewa, killed on December 3, 2015.
- Muftah Junedi, High School student, Badano, Western Hararge, killed on December 5, 2015.
- Muraddin (Murad) Abdi Ibrahim, High School student, Haramaya, Eastern Hararge, killed on December 7, 2015.
- Bekele Soboka, High School student, Ada’a Barga, Western Shawa, killed on December 8, 2015.
- Bebele Seyfu, High sShool students, Inchini, Western Shawa, killed on December 8, 2015.
- Ebbissa Mebratu Bucho, father of four, Finchaa, Eastern Wallaga, killed on December 8, 2015.
- Habtamu Milkesa, 26 years old.
- Girma Xiruneh Saaqqataa, 34 , Mendi, Western Wallaga.
- Immiruu Nagawoo Jimmaa, 42, Western Wallaga.
- Shifarra Girma Sanbata, 23, teacher, Gindabarat , Western Shawa.
- Sajin Cala Fiqadu Abdata, 25, Eastern Wallaga.
- Dajane Fayisa Xaafa, 32, Sabbata, Central Shawa, near Addis Ababa.
- Komsisa Dhuguma Milkeessa, 23, Ambo, Western Shawa.
- Gammachu Tariku Ijjigu, 23, Qellem, Western Wallagga.
- Bekuma Tadese Sande, 23, Naqamte, Eastern Wallaga.
- Tasfaye Abate Damise, 32, Gindabarat, Western Shawa.
- Warqu Tariku JIren, 22, Manasibuu, Western Wallagga.
- Tamtime Bayane Nagari, 22, East Wallagga.
- Honiyaa Bushee, student, Admas University.
- Dajane Balay Magarsa, 28, teacher, Gindabarat, Western Shawa.
- Tadase Nagawo Gammada, 30, Gindabarat, Western Shawa.
- Abdi Tariku Irreessaa, 20, Giddaami, Qellem, Western Wallaga.
- Biniyam Rata Ijersa, 23, North Shawa.
- Addunyaa Waqjira Gutata, 31, Eastern Wallega.
- Bakkalcha Quufaa Beenya, 48, Arsi.
- Tolasa Badhadha Dabare, 25, 3rd Year student, Rift Valley University.
- Baru Ashuga Tuuchee, 23, Laloo, Qellem, Western Wallaga.
- Wagi Dabala Gadaa, 22, 3rd Year student, Ambo University.
- Abbomsa Akkuma Hundarraa, 28, teacher, Horro, Eastern Wallaga.
- Qabannessa Dhaba Ayansaa, 22 Ambo, Western Shawa.
- Makonin Gabisa Gaddafa, 25, Meetta Roobii,Western Shawa.
- Ebbisa, 21, Western Wallaga
- Gaddisa Mosisa, Jimma.
- Melkamu Tadese Biyo, 28, Yaya Gullalle, worker at Bole, North Shawa.
- Dawit Nagasa Wadaj, 20 Western Wallega.
- Ishetu Dhaba Nagawo, 20 Qellem, Anfilloo, Western Wallaga.
- Raggasa Dabare Guddisa, 20 Western Shawa.
- Abdisa Booka Tujuba. 26, Najjoo, Western Wallaga.
- Humnesa Badhasa Maqdasaa, 35 Ambo, Western Shawa.
- Taariku Boki Dabala, 24, Sulultaa, Central Shawa, Near Addis Ababa.
- Samson Abebe Tasama, 20, Gimbii, Western Wallaga.
- Baqqale Taresa Raggasa, 20, student, Ambo University, Western Shawa.
- Dhinsa Fufa Dirriba, 22, Ambo, Western Shawa.
- Daniel Tashome Tujuba, 25, Western Wallaga.
- Gammachu Marga Zallaqe, 23, Western Shewa.
- Nagasa Barsisa Dabare, 20, Student.
- Tsaggahe Bayisa Tufa, 26, Waliso, Western Shawa.
- Kasahun Mul’isa Mul’ata, 23, Road Construction worker, Western Wallaga.
- Takalign Bulcha Bayisa, 20, Western Shawa.
- Warqu Bayisa Tufa, 29, Western Shawa.
- Kusa Gizacho Amante, 28 years old.
- Bichaqa Buruna Adiga, 21 years old.
- Gammachu Tamiru Nagara, 22 years old.
- Baqqale Girma Tulluu, 27 years old.
- IIku Abona Makuriya, 24 years old.
- Sintayyoo Makuriya Gadaa, 22 years old.
- Kinfu Mokonin Tasama, 26 years old.
- Getinat Lammii Eyyoo, 26 years old.
- Biniyam Cala Garrasuu, 27 years old.
- Birhan Siyyum Sayila, 22 years old.
- Leelise Dirriba lnsa, 19 years old.
- Imabet Geta Baqqale, 22 years old.
- Gazzahany Oliiqaa, Horro, Eastern Wallaga.
- Guutu Abarra Dheeressa
- Karrasa Chaa
- Dabala Tafa Robi
- Dajane Sarbessa
- Miftah Junedin Bushura
- Murata Abdi Ibrahim
- Bekkele Sabbooqaa
- Eebbisa Bucho Finca’a
At this moment, as the protest continues, the government has escalated its brutal crackdown. Armed forces are roaming the villages and towns, forcing people to stay at home, disrupting their daily activities and starving them to death. Young men and women, the elderly and children are confined to their homes, which is violated routinely and searched illegally. Their properties are destroyed and their means of receiving information from outside such satellite dishes and cell phones are destroyed or confiscated. Thousands of innocent young men and women, community and political leaders are arrested. The while the Oromo people are dying while the government is refusing determined to silence any sign of dissent.
The Oromo, peaceful and generous people—the creators of the gadaa system, a genuinely democratic system of government, a remarkable contribution to humanity—are dying in the hands of a brutal regime. These defenseless people need and deserve the support of the international community. We understand that what happens to the Oromo people in Ethiopia does not make the headline news in United States. But the Oromo are very important people. They occupy the largest region in Ethiopia, both in terms of population size and land mass. Their land is endowed with rich natural and mineral resources and serves as the backbone of the Ethiopian economy. The well-being of the Oromo society guarantees the stability and peace in the Horn of Africa. We humbly warn that there is a substantial risk in ignoring the sufferings of such a large population in the Horn of Africa, and its growing Diaspora communities. The situation in Ethiopia is getting worse every day. Neglecting them and destruction of the Oromo society will definitely contribute to larger political, economic, social and security crises that will threaten regional and global peace. Saving them saving peace in the region.
The Ethiopian government is directly responsible for the loss of life and looming crises. It should be forced to account for the atrocities against young people. The global community should not ignore the undemocratic and brutal practices of an authoritarian-terrorist regime.
We, members of the Oromo communities in Diaspora appeal to:
- The United Nations and the global community to end tragedy immediately.
- The World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to stop funding the Ethiopian regime which is utilizing financial assistance to evict farmers and inflict death on families.
- The United States government and the European Union to stop economic and military assistance to Ethiopia.
- The governments of Australia, Canada, Norway, the United Kingdom and all nations to stop supporting the government of Ethiopia until stops its brutal acts immediately.
We request the global community to:
- Condemn the brutal acts of the Ethiopian government, and ensure these acts stop immediately.
- Advises the US business community to limit or divest all investment projects from Ethiopia until the government ceases its violent behavior and treats citizens fairly and resolves differences peacefully.
- Condemn the violence and use political and diplomatic means to change the behavior of the Ethiopian government.
- Immediately stop the implementation of the controversial Addis Ababa Master Plan.
- Pressure the regime to release all political prisoners (including students and other protesters detained recently or earlier).
- Pressure the Ethiopian government to establish an independent commission to thoroughly investigate the killings, arrests and destruction of properties and bring the criminal perpetrators to justice swiftly.
- Demand the Ethiopian government pay adequate compensations to the families who lost relatives and property due to criminal acts of government forces.
Oromo Communities’ in North America and their friends
United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR)
Palais des Nations
CH-1211 Geneva 10, Switzerland
The United States Government
The White House
The European Union
The African Union
The Government of Canada
The Government of Germany
The Human Rights Watch
For more background information and media coverage, please refer to the following sources:
Amnesty International, “Because I am Oromo: Sweeping Repression in the Oromia Region of Ethiopia” at https://www.amnesty.org/en/documents/afr25/006/2014/en/).
Human Rights Watch, “Yet Again, a Bloody Crackdown on Protesters in Ethiopia” at (https://www.hrw.org/news/2015/12/05/dispatches-yet-again-bloody-crackdown-protesters-ethiopia).
Deutsche Welle, “Outcry as Oromo protests in Ethiopia turn violent” can be accessed from (http://www.dw.com/en/outcry-as-oromo-protests-in-ethiopia-turn-violent/a-18912721?maca=en-rss-en-all-1573-rdf).
The Guardian, “Violent clashes in Ethiopia over ‘master plan’ to expand Addis” can be accessed from (http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/dec/11/ethiopia-protests-master-plan-addis-ababa-students).
The protests are covered in graphic details in Oromo and Ethiopian media networks which can be accessed from:
Finfinne Tribune, http://finfinnetribune.com/.
Oromia Media Network (OMN), https://www.oromiamedia.org/.
Ethiopian Satellite Television (ESAT), http://ethsat.com/.
Oromo Diaspora Solidarity Rallies documented by:
Particularly heart-breaking funeral procession of murdered young protesters can be accessed at:
December 30, 2015
Online Petition To:
The United Nations
The World Bank
1225 Connecticut Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20433 U.S.A.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF)
700 19th Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20431
(Photo Credit: Mahafreen H. Mistry/NPR)
On the evening of Dec 23, 2015, Bekele Gerba, was at home, reading at his desk in the company of his wife and son when armed Ethiopian federal security forces surrounded his home, entered and searched his house against his will, and forcibly arrested him. His family and witnesses were told that he would be taken to Makalawi, an infamous high security prison where they could visit him in 24 hours. But they were not allowed to see him. The day he was scheduled to appear in court, he disappeared. Later, he was taken to a hospital where word got out that he had been beaten to unconsciousness during an interrogation at a military camp. He continues to be denied visitation. Right now, he is being held incommunicado, and we have grave concerns that his health is deteriorating.
Bekele Gerba is the Deputy Chairman of the Oromo Federalist Congress party and a widely respected peace advocate. He is a renowned voice for nonviolence, urging only peaceful forms of resistance to violent oppression in Ethiopia. He envisions peaceful struggle as the preferred means for attaining democracy, unity, and justice. He has become a significant voice of this generation.
His arrest late December was not his first. In August 2011, following a meeting with Amnesty International about Ethiopia’s human rights violations, Bekele was imprisoned, charged under the 2009 Anti-Terrorism proclamation and sentenced to eight years. Similarly trumped up charges are frequently used to silence any voice of opposition to the government. He was released in late March 2015 upon appeal, and upon his release, he was invited to the U.S. to deliver keynote remarks at an academic conference. He spent a week in Washington, meeting with members of the diplomatic community. He met with Congress members, State Department officials, media outlets and human rights groups. He gave an interview to NPR’s Michele Kelemen about the lack of political space in Ethiopia and to Al Jazeera’s The Stream. Recently, he spoke to Al Jazeera about the Ethiopian government’s violent crackdown on widespread Oromo protests against proposed large-scale land takeovers that will displace millions of farmers.
For most of his life, Bekele was a professor of foreign languages. A few years ago, he declared that he could not simply witness the widespread and systematic oppression, ethnic persecution and grievances of his people, the Oromo, and the Ethiopian government’s merciless targeting and killing of the Oromo. Amnesty International reported, “between 2011 and 2014, at least 5000 Oromos have been arrested based on their actual or suspected peaceful opposition to the government.” Dejene Tafa, the legal advisor to OFC, was also recently arrested, as was Addisu Bulala, Desta Dinka, Singer Hawi Tezera, Birra Gemedi, Hailu Adugna, poet Goshu Girma, journalist Getachew Shiferaw, young students Lomitu Waqbulcho and Hirut Tola, news anchor Fikadu Mirkana and many more. Right now, thousands upon thousands of civilians are being rounded up, arrested, tortured or killed by federal security for participating in peaceful Oromo protests.