OROMO FEDERALIST CONGRESS INTERNATIONAL SUPPORT GROUP (OFC-ISG)
Call for an End to the Crackdown: Stop Human Rights Violations in Ethiopia
On March 23, 2016, the Ethiopian government stopped Dr. Merera Gudina from leaving Bole airport of Addis Ababa and traveling to Washington D.C. Dr. Merera Gudina is chairman of the Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC) and the deputy chairman of the larger opposition coalition Medrek. The Oromo Federalist Congress International Support Group (OFC-ISG) is concerned by this travel ban. This travel ban is one among many violations of human rights.
In his interview on VOA Amharic radio program on March 24, 2016, Dr. Merera explained what happened: “At the airport they said to me, ‘Our system does not read your passport, maybe there is defect on your passport.’ I went to immigration, the office that issued the passport; although there is no problem with my passport, they failed to give me solution. I have been traveling with this passport for the last 30 years. This shows the government’s deliberate act to stop me from traveling.”
Despite the government’s claim to scrap the master plan, public admission to use of excessive force by their security forces, commitment to pay compensation to the families of the victims of the violence, and apologies for the lost lives; it has yet to follow through with any of its promises. The Oromia region is under martial law, and security forces are still carrying out arbitrary arrests, kidnappings, disappearances, and outright murder without any accountability with impunity. These acts demonstrate that the ruling party ignored the US State Department’s statement released on January 14, 2016 which urges that “all interested parties must be able to express their views freely, refrain from silencing dissent and to protect the constitutionally enshrined rights of all citizens, including the right to gather peacefully, to write, and to speak freely as voices of a diverse nation. We call for the release of those imprisoned for exercising their rights, such as political party leaders and journalists.”
We do not see any commitment to respect for human rights on the part of the Ethiopian government. The continued killings, ongoing crackdown against protesters, refusal to release political prisoners, and subjection of the entire Oromia region to military rule reveal that their apology and admission of fault are insubstantial. These empty promises may briefly appease certain concerned parties but do not address the demands and the root issue of the gross human rights violations. Moreover, after months of protest, there continues to be no meaningful consultation process that would create hope among the Oromo people for self-rule. For the largest ethnic group in Ethiopia, fully 40 percent of the population, to be utterly disenfranchised with no path to participatory governance and no government body willing to respond to their demands that human rights, international law and the constitution of Ethiopia be followed is untenable.
As such we, OFC-ISG, call for:
the release of all imprisoned for exercising their rights, such as political party leaders and journalists.
the right of the people to gather peacefully, to write, and to speak freely.
the immediate withdrawal of the federal army from the Oromia regional state.
the Ethiopian government to respect the right to movement enshrined in Art. 32 of FDRE constitution for the prominent opposition figure Dr. Merera Gudina.
the Ethiopian government to take necessary steps to stop the violence, mass imprisonment, and killings of peaceful protestors.
Furthermore, we call on United States officials to put pressure on the Ethiopian government to respect the rights of its citizens enshrined in its constitution and realize constitutionalism in Ethiopia.
Oromo Federalist Congress International Support Group is a non-profit organization established in 2010 with a mission to bring an end to the brutal oppression, injustice and inequality in Ethiopia and advance human rights, rule of law, good governance, the protection of the environment and sustainable development in Ethiopia through advocacy, education, public forum and information.
Oromo Federalist Congress International Support Group (OFC-ISG)
March 30, 2016